Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Equations of Love - Ethel Wilson

The Basics: The Equations of Love, Ethel Wilson, 1952, 263 pages, paperback

How I found it: I've read some of Ethel Wilson's other books and enjoyed them. I was in line to check out books at my local public library and happened to see this one on the paperback rack. I had never heard of it, but picked it up on the spur of the moment anyway.

What's it about?: This is really two books in one; it is two novellas. "Tuesday and Wednesday" tells the story of two (important) days in the life of Myrtle and Mort Johnson. "Lilly's Story" follows a young woman who goes to incredible lengths to protect her daughter and give her the life she wished she had had. Both are about love, but in very different ways, which I suppose explains the title of the collection.

Did I like it?: Disappointingly, I didn't like either novella at all. They were well written, as is characteristic of Wilson's work, but they just didn't interest me. In particular, I found the protagonists in both works to be unlikeable and didn't relate to them at all. I found Myrtle to be a despicable person, and Mort to be a sad sack lazy guy. I found Lilly to be delusional to the point of feeling sorry for her. As usual hower, Greater Vancouver plays a part in the story, and Wilson's descriptions of the city and its surroundings in the earlier part of the 19th century were fascinating.

Will you like it?: I'm sad to say that this one is not recommended. I've said before the Ethel Wilson is possible the most underrated Canadian female fiction author, and it's true. However, this is not her finest work. Check out Swamp Angel first.

But don't take my word for it: The usual info from amazon and her wikipedia page are all I could find.

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