Interpretations of Loveby Jane Campbell
A profound debut novel that explores complicated love, secrets, and familial misunderstandings from the celebrated octogenarian author of the “trail-blazing” (Oprah Daily) collection Cat Brushing
It’s the week of Dr. Agnes Stacey’s only daughter’s wedding, and each of the eleven attendees of the small family gathering is bringing their own simmering tensions to the event. Agnes’ uncle, Professor Malcolm Miller, has harbored a family secret since her parents – his sister and brother in law – died in a car crash when she was a young girl. Dr. Joseph Bradshaw, who distantly married into the family, has nursed a secret obsession with Agnes since his brief stint as her therapist. Agnes herself will be returning to her ex-husband’s home for the first time, just as she’s trying to extricate herself from a potent love affair. Each of them has the tools to analyze the love lives of others, yet find themselves unable to recognize the love in their own lives. And though they’ve each muddled through painful years in emotional isolation, only Malcolm knows that the origins of their thwarted attachments all lie in the same English seaside town. Where better to lay bare the failures and secrets of one’s advancing age than at an intimate celebration of love?
In this incisive and involving debut novel, Campbell parses the fraught inner lives of ordinary people doing their best to process the aftershocks of war, the parenting they do and don’t receive, and the many different forms love can take in one family.
“It’s not every day—or every year—that you encounter a debut as fresh, assured and fun as Jane Campbell’s Cat Brushing from a writer of any age . . . [An] excellent, pathbreaking collection.”—New York Times
“A no-holds-barred collection of 13 dirty, doughty and often wickedly funny stories . . . Jane Campbell’s commanding voice — and wise insights about female empowerment, about embracing one’s twilight years and about feeling seen no matter how old you are — is one damn well worth listening to.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Challenging the stereotypical narrative of older women as weak or feeble, Campbell, an octogenarian herself, gives life to 13 women in stories centering on their passions, libidos and sense of self. Denying that invisibility arrives with wrinkles, these women experience a range of emotion — joy, heartbreak, trauma, regret and satisfaction — while living the lives they want on their own terms.”—Washington Post
“If you would expect an 80-year-old, first-time author’s story collection to be mild and nostalgic, think again. In this trail-blazing, provocative-in-the-best-way volume, Campbell upends expectations.”—Oprah Daily
“Strikingly original . . . These are characters rarely focused on in fiction, variously mischievous, wistful and unabashedly sensual. Campbell, 80, opens a much-needed portal into how it feels to approach life’s end.”—People Magazine