The story tells of the attraction of opposites and of a love doomed to fail - and yet be the one and only true love that will ever be known.
The treatment is restrained yet powerful. The language is lucid and flows well.
The reader is given a clear understanding of the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the protagonist. Even though the character is nothing like myself - nor anyone that I would want to be - I was caught up in his predicament and very much sympathised with him.
Bruce the son of an unsuccessful business man, is the world-weary narrator of this monologue about the eponymous Marisa, a girl he met and became fascinated with as a young man, but who obviously had little time for his advances. However he persists in his approaches, even after many years, during which time he marries Henrietta (Henry) and has a son, Bruce the Third, none of his family being given more than cursory attention.
Bruce’s story is an autumnal one, beginning when leaves are clogging the gutters, as he settles into describing the delapidated mansion that Marisa’s grandmother has left her. He seems to enjoy harping on wrecks and ruins, taking pains to illuminate the many flaws of this decaying property. Property, however, is something Bruce appreciates and he spends a small fortune in refurbishing the place, advising and supervising its conversion into rented apartments. Marisa, however, could care less about the windfall and even less it would appear about her devoted admirer, for she barely responds to his pursuit of her, disappearing abroad and showing contempt for Bruce’s commercial enterprises. Instead she invests in her own Rae Agency quite successfully it apprears, leaving her stolid admirer to trace her whereabouts on his computer and detail his underlings to glean information about her.
Obviously the novel is about a clash of life styles, her art and his business interests forever highlighting the ever-expanding hiatus between them. His wife and young family, almost totally ignored in the book, are left trailing in the wake of Bruce’s pathetic fixation. The book recalled for me Charles Arrowby’s obsession with a childhood sweetheart in Iris Mudoch’s The Sea, The Sea! Charles, however, is more sympathetic, the gap between the protagonist and his idol being vast in a serio-comic way; Bruce, to be frank is a bit of a drag, looking back 25 years to what could never have worked. I’d like to know Henry’s take on her gloomy partner; at least she replaced Marisa’s self-portaits by Sisley reproductions.
…an extraordinarily mature and assured story. The narrative moves at a gentle pace, but carries the reader into an intricate psychological and profound journey that has similarities with early Hermann Hesse… Malcolm Stern, author Falling in Love/Staying in Love (Piatkus).