The Romantic

Paperback | January 19, 2004

byBarbara Gowdy

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For lovers of literary fiction, The Romantic is Barbara Gowdy’s utterly absorbing tale of love, longing, and loss. It is the story of Louise, whose former beautyqueen mother disappears one day, leaving a note that reads only—and incorrectly—“Louise knows how to work the washing machine.” Louise promptly falls passionately in love with Mrs. Richter, the new neighbor, and then with Abel, Mrs. Richter’s nature-loving, enigmatic son. Despite the fact that Abel moves away, Louise becomes more and more fixated on him, discovering that she cannot get Abel to love her as fiercely as she loves him. Only when she is forced to confront another great loss is she finally able to confront the costs of losing herself to another.

The Romantic is a powerful exploration of the many incarnations of love in all of its painful and joyful variations, a novel that glows with Barbara Gowdy’s note-perfect style, gentle humor, and unforgettable characters.

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From the Publisher

For lovers of literary fiction, The Romantic is Barbara Gowdy’s utterly absorbing tale of love, longing, and loss. It is the story of Louise, whose former beautyqueen mother disappears one day, leaving a note that reads only—and incorrectly—“Louise knows how to work the washing machine.” Louise promptly falls passionately in love with ...

Christopher Andersen is the critically acclaimed author of twenty-six books that have been translated into more than twenty languages worldwide. A former contributing editor ofTimeand senior editor ofPeople, Andersen has also written hundreds of articles for a wide range of publications, includingLifemagazine, theNew York Times, andVan...

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Mister Sandman
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1 inPublished:January 19, 2004Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0006392261

ISBN - 13:9780006392262

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Customer Reviews of The Romantic

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Gem I adore this book. The enduring love the main character feels for a person who is never going to be what she needs is just so hauntingly sad. This is a book that stays with you. Gowdy's writing is brilliant.
Date published: 2014-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreakingly Beautiful This book made my heart ache for the characters right from the very beginning. It's the first novel by Gowdy that I have read and I am now anxious to read them all. This one has set the bar high. You will be thinking about this book long after you close the cover.
Date published: 2012-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read This is the first Barbara Gowdy novel that I read. I really enjoyed the complex characters and progressive story. I am anixous to read some of her other titles.
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable style What can I say? My opinion of Barbara's writing is biased since I was a student in her writing class at Ryerson in the early 90s. I like her dark style and she inspires me to go in my own direction. The Romantic is one of the many books I have in my collection. I also recommend Falling Angels.
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Transformative power of love Yes, this is a story about love. Louise and Abel's relationship reaffirms that there are some people we're simply drawn to for unbeknownst reasons. Gowdy's writing is fluid and lyrical, and the way the scenes jump back and forth through the different stages of the characters' lives works well because the reader really can see how that love has deepened beyond cliches. Love does not even begin to describe the attraction between Abel and Louise. At one point, Louise describes the feeling she has for Abel as simply the Abel feeling, one that supplants all other more conventional ways and emotions. I'm reminded of something that Doug Coupland wrote, that love makes you belong to the world as fully as birds and animals and flowers. The love between Louise and Abel is one that could be described as unearthly, but it's precisely because it is so indescribable and inexplicable that it's also the most real. Gowdy does a great job -- her writing has emotional power. Read _Falling Angels_ too!
Date published: 2005-11-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Truly taken by story. A story about love in all its exquisite variations is exactly what this book is.I truly enjoyed the story and recommend it to anyone who isn't looking to read a fairy tale like love story but who can still appreciate love in whatever form it comes.
Date published: 2005-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book! This book is a true literary gem. The characters are ordinary people with ordinary lives, but they are made extraordinary through Gowdy's profound insights, humour, and her obvious ability to give her characters great emotional depth. The two main characters are Louise and Abel, who grew up on the same street in suburban Toronto in the 60s. Both are only children in families that defy the nuclear norm, and as is typical of children, because they are different they are subsequently outcasted from their peer group. Their strong friendship is an oasis for Louise, and Abel lets Louise into his world of exploring the ravine in their neighbourhood. The great dialouge and humour in the book can be illustrated by this passage: "On our second date, at a French restaurant, I learn that he's an accountant who 'came this close' to being married once. 'It wasn't meant to be,' he says easily. I am warmed by his optimism and by how his eyes soften when we talk about Peter, and yet, by dessert, it's clear that there won't be a third date. 'I can't believe it,' he says after I admit that Peter's tournament was not only the first game of baseball I'd ever sat through, but the first game of sports, period. He says, 'You mean to tell me you never rooted for your high school football team?' He sounds truly puzzled. What I find unbelievable is that the only books he own are Ask a Handyman and The World Almanac of Natural Disasters." The story's main theme is love, with all of its different forms and all of its dynamics. Parental love is a prominent feature, as Louise's relationship with her mother is analyzed, along with the Richter's parental influence. The cycle of romantic love and all the craziness of it are touched upon, with a message about love's ability to both heal and destroy. Louise seems unable to truly love anyone but Abel, despite that Abel doesn't have the same love for her, and Louise tries to move on with her life without Abel in it by working in menial jobs and dating other men, who she always rejects even when they are delightful, because they are not Abel. It is painful to read her behaving like a idiot, despite that she is clearly intelligent. The self-destructive nature of both Abel and Louise is an interesting commentary on how trauma in our childhood can shape us, and yet at the same time the alcoholic in this novel is not the person with the absent mother who treated her as if she was a dress-up doll, but instead is the artistic individual with adoring parents, lots of talent and opportunity, and a vast array of friends. I highly recommend this book. The honesty, insights, and wisdom that come from this book are remarkable, and the story is beautifully haunting and touching.
Date published: 2004-09-18