THE LOVE GERM by Jill Neville


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The late British reviewer and novelist Neville debuts here with a lightly amusing, sweetly romantic remembrance of radical things past: Paris in May 1968, the heady, riotous days when revolution was in the air. As Parisian streets erupt and tear gas wafts day and night through the air, a vastly tangled love affair unfolds, with all participants having one thing in common: gonorrhea. Polly, a political naif from rural England pursuing a bohemian life in the Latin Quarter, meets Giorgio, a filthy, dark-eyed Italian anarchist taking a course at the Sorbonne and wanted by the authorities for deportation. He gives Polly the clap, which she soon spreads to her upper-class ex-lover and boss when he comes over from London for an afternoon quickie—and who in turn infects his aristocratic wife. Giorgio then reconciles briefly with his ex, also from London, who passes his love germ on to her longtime friend and fellow radical Gottlieb, an American on the lam, giving it to him on the one occasion when their friendship turns physical. As if this weren—t enough, Polly’s friend Jane, berated by her husband for affairs she never had, finally accepts an offer from a randy student who had already encountered one of Giorgio’s other lovers, thereby bringing his disease into yet another home and ending Jane’s marriage. This lusty circle of friends, however, for whom fighting the good fight means not just street activity and sheltering Paris’s most wanted but regular trips to the doctor as well, is also visited by true love’s first stirrings: Jane finds quiet happiness, while Polly and Giorgio suffer a stormy romance through which they remain firmly attracted to each other. Tongue-in-cheek turns fill this swift, buoyant little tale of the past whose innocence is almost its undoing, the sexual revolution having since then foundered on a shoal much more savage than the clap.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1998
ISBN: 1-85984-285-2
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Verso
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1998