Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love Child by Sheila Kohler

A forbidden marriage, a baby lost and a love triangle gone horribly wrong, LOVE CHILD is the compelling story of Bill, a young South African woman, whose life is defined by two singular decisions and the apartheid-era, class driven society in which she lives.
In 1925 seventeen-year-old Bill is dynamic, beautiful and filled with a sense of possibility.  She jumps into her future with Isaac, a handsome Jewish employee of her father's, and elopes to Kimberly.  Hoping to find refuge in the home of her three spinster aunts Bill discovers there is no escaping the scandal of marrying a Jew and without her family's permission.  Faced with disownment Bill abandons Isaac only to find herself imprisoned by her aunts as she bears the consequences of one night of passion.
Ten years later, Bill answers an ad for a "nurse-companion" placed by Mark, a tyrant of a husband, for his sensitive, wounded wife, Helen.  Thrust into a world of wealth and disillusionment, Bill becomes the third party in the marriage.  As Mark turns his attention to Bill, she sees a way out of poverty into the glittering life she always coveted-but is it worth it?
It's 1956, and under pressure to make her will, Bill is forced to think back to the momentous events that have made her an extremely wealthy if somewhat disillusioned woman.  Throughout the narrative the voice of aging Bill revisits her painful past and is struck anew by the betrayal of her aunts and the loss of her child.

Sheila Kohler was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.  She has won two O.Henry Prizes, an Open Fiction Award, and a Willa Cather Prize.  Her novel Cracks was nominated for the Impac Award and made into a movie starring Eva Green.  She currently teaches at Bennington College and Princeton University and lives in New York City.  This is Kohler's eleventh work of fiction.

My Thoughts:
Bill is a woman who has always had her life controlled by men; first her father and then her second husband. Now even as a widow, Mr Parks the estate executor is trying to convince her that she must leave her inheritance to her sons but Bill has other plans for the fortune. Through flashbacks we learn of Bill's past from her late teen years to her marriage to Mark. We of course learn of her 'love child' to whom she would like to leave some of her fortune but will she be able to locate her?
In general I am not a fan of books with flashbacks but since the chapters were clearly marked with the time period I was able to keep things straight in my mind. I felt the ending was somewhat abrupt and would have liked more plot development.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy of Love Child available via NetGalley

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