Sunday, October 24, 2010

Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge

Dalmatia, set along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea makes for a most welcome setting in Illyrian Spring.  Ann Bridge writes descriptively of the warm sun, lapping waves and leisurely lunches taken al fresco which sounded quite nice as our days here are turning colder practically by the hour.

Lady Kilmichael escapes there, leaving her family behind in England.  Her husband, Walter, has had his head turned by yet another woman and her daughter, Linnet, takes her mother for granted.  Twin boys well on their way to adulthood are getting on with things and are not central characters.

A well-known artist (but under a different name), Lady Kilmichael spends her time sketching and while doing so meets a young man, Nicholas.  He dreams of studying art but it seems his parents think architecture a more fitting career.  A chance meeting where he criticizes her sketch of a rock is the beginning of a relationship between older woman, younger man and coming to terms with those feelings.  After all, this is at a time before even Mrs Robinson!

The author set these characters up perfectly, I really cared about each one and was beside myself wondering if anything was going to happen between them.  The glances, the brush of a hand across a shoulder, the inner turmoil, the things left was all sheer brilliance!

Eventually, we're introduced to Dr Halther, who resides in the village.  Nicholas is staying at his home through devious means but enough about that.  The Professor, as he is called, watches these two and recognizes all the signs of love between them.  He puts difficult questions to Lady Kilmicheal and she ends up finally being able to vocalize how she feels about her husband, the state of her marriage, her role as a mother and Nicholas.  I really, really liked the Professor and thought perhaps Lady Kilmichael could be quite happy with him as they interacted so well.
I know you're all riveted...wondering just what happens!  I know I was and flipped pages quicker than anything, desperate to find out.  The ending was fabulous and once again, Ann Bridge wrote beautifully about each character's resolution.  It has not been easy to close the book on the lives of these people and I miss them already.

Thank you Rachel, for sending me this book!  I really enjoyed turning the aged pages of this 1949 edition orange Penguin and wondering who else has done so before me.


  1. i LOVED LOVED LOVED this book and Rachel very kindly gave it to me as well!!! I dare anyone who reads it not to immediately put it on their 'favourite books of all time' list!

  2. Thank you for this. It sounds really, really good. Now to track it down. Not as easy as it sounds.

  3. I have been on the look out for a Virago copy for AGES of this - it's really quite rare. I've heard so many good things about it.

  4. Oh this sounds fabulous! Must see if I can track it down. K x

  5. Bloomsbury Bell, Rachel knows a good story when she sees it!

    Mystica, You're right, these oldies but goodies are not to be seen around here either.

    verity, It's highly doubtful that I would ever see one around here but if I ever do then I'll send it to you!

    Kristina, You're absolutely swept away by the end of this one and the landscape sounds breathtaking.

  6. YES! Another convert! I pick up copies of this wherever I find them and send them out to unsuspecting people...always with joyful results! So glad you enjoyed it Darlene, it was a pleasure to send it!

  7. My library has this and I checked it out and started reading, but you know how it is with library books. I think I am going to have to bring this one home over the holidays and finish. I read through the Venice scenes and they were getting ready to set off in the boat...and I'm left dangling. I need to finish as everyone has loved it and I am sure I will enjoy the rest, too!

  8. bookssnob, You and Verity have been so kind in sending me books which I doubt would ever show up around here. Thank you once again!

    Danielle, A perfect read to warm you up once we're in the depths of winter!

  9. Second glowing review I've read of this book. Sounds wonderful!

  10. makedoandread, It very much has a 'Persephone' feel to it, I think you would enjoy it!