Lettice & Victoria by Susanna Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
'Roman à clef? This darkly comedic novel revolves around the interactions of five main characters. Victoria, barely twenty, finds herself acting as amanuensis to Laurence, an elderly man of letters, now blind, who lives in a ravishing house by the sea in northern Italy. Soon after her arrival, she indulges in a heady night of passion with Edgar, a youthful Englishman. Their subsequent union introduces an extraordinary, dominating mother-in-law in the form of Lettice, who is jealous and suspicious of Victoria's prettiness and her ability to amuse Lettice's intellectual friends. Lettice makes it her goal to ensure that Victoria’s new life in England is not just complicated but completely confusing, too. Enter Archie, one of the inner circle, whose relationship with Victoria provokes a scandal that threatens to destroy her. Darkly funny and deeply insightful, Lettice & Victoria is not just a love story with a fanciful and flawed female protagonist, but a wonderful portrait of 1950s English society.'
I just want to say to Karen at Arcadia, thank you sooo much for sending me this copy to review and I am sorry it has taken me so long to read it… I am trying to catch up on a backlog of books while I was in hospital as well as trying to meet some release dates now… my bad.
Right first of all what can I say, the cover to this book is fabulous!!! I love how it has been drawn and the paper is thick and slightly textured to feel. This really drew me into the book as it stood out.
I found that the way it was written was quite unusual, and that some younger readers may struggle with this style of writing, it did take me a while to get my head around it. Once I did I loved the level of description for the characters and the setting. It really drew me in and I could picture being in the book transported back to the 1950’s.
This book I managed to read in one sitting, it only has just over 160 pages and I found it a refreshing read in between a heavier book.
This is about a young woman, Victoria. She goes to Italy to be a companion for an elderly gentleman who is blind. She is there to be his eyes and read him his favourite books and letters. Victoria meets Edgar and has a night of passion with him. She is soon introduced to Lettice is his mother and she doesn’t seem to like the effect Victoria is having on Edgar. Victoria ends up marrying Edgar, and although it would seem the story should be a love story, to me it came across more as a marriage of convenience.
There were moments of humour in the book, but to be honest I did expect it to be more humorous than it was. I enjoyed that there were short chapters in the book too; it made it very convenient for breaks. (I like to get to the end of a chapter for a cup of tea or to go to sleep etc).
I did enjoy this book and I think one thing that made it most enjoyable is that it was a little different and I found it to be a breath of fresh air. I was a little disappointed by the lack of humour in it but the way it was written was so beautiful that I will forgive that.
If you are looking for something a little different, be sure to give this a try.