Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Thinking About Love..
on 18 August 2011
A thought-provoking novel about love, and about the theatre. Lessing's protagonist is Sarah, a widow in her 60s who for years has invested most of her energies in her small theatre company. The company have decided to put on a play about a French-Creole 19th-century musician called Julie Vairon - a free-thinker, who mysteriously died (probably committing suicide) in her thirties in southern France. In the process of getting the play to performance, Sarah experiences love in various forms. Firstly, she watches one of the play's sponsors, an unhappy middle-aged man named Stephen, fall in love with the long-dead Julie Vairon. And later, when the play is in rehearsal, Sarah herself begins to experience feelings uncomfortably like love, first for one of the dashing young actors, and later, and more deeply, for Henry, the director. Meanwhile another of the actors in the group begins to make amorous advances to Sarah...
Lessing beautifully captures the experience of being in love (or in lust) and writes very interestingly on why Sarah may have avoided these emotions for so long. Her descriptions of the world of the theatre are brilliant, and the story of Julie Vairon (invented by Lessing) is fascinating, and very believable. If I had to criticize the book, it would be for the scenes dealing with the fantasist Stephen: I never quite believed in his passion for a long-dead woman, and Lessing seemed unable to make up her mind whether Stephen's wife was really a lesbian, or had simply turned to lesbianism in frustration at her husband! Also, Sarah's feelings for the young actor in her company (who appeared a spoiled brat) were less convincing than her feelings for Henry. But I'd still give the novel five stars - such excellent writing doesn't come round that often.