Interpretations of Love

Grove Atlantic. Aug. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9780802162885. $28. F
DEBUT Campbell, who at 80 years old made waves with the story “Cat-Brushing” and went on to publish a short story collection of the same name, writes her debut novel. An elegant estate on the coast of England serves as the setting for a wedding at which an old letter, newly delivered, will upend the lives of several guests. The narrative shifts between three characters: Agnes, mother of the bride, an academic who was orphaned at an early age when her parents died in a car crash; Joe, a retired psychiatrist, who once treated Agnes for depression during her marriage to an abusive husband; and Malcolm, a dissipated Oxford don, uncle to Agnes, and holder of the letter. The missive in question, written by Agnes’s mother shortly before her death, was entrusted to her brother to deliver to Joe, with whom she had had a fateful wartime encounter. The tangled relationships of these three characters will undergo a profound change when the letter’s contents are revealed.
VERDICT Admirers of Mary Wesley will appreciate this impressive debut by another late -looming writer. From its lovely cover to its character-driven plot, this poignant novel is warmly recommended.
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