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 unsaid...it 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.