THE MADNESS OF LOVE by Katharine Davies


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British author Davies debuts with a modern, slightly depressive take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

This romance of confused identities is set in the supposed present, but, despite the occasional contemporary detail, its cast of sensitive, damaged souls seems to live in an earlier, more innocent era. Aspiring writer Valentina, distraught because her twin brother, Jonathan, has returned to their childhood home in Sri Lanka without her, cuts her hair. Pretending to have a landscaping degree, she takes a job in the seaside town of Illerwick, restoring the garden of musician/composer Leo, who has recently returned from abroad. Leo has long been in love with Melody, his best friend Gabriel’s older sister, who is headmistress at the local school. Valentina, however, is soon in love with Leo, who asks her to be his go-between with Melody. Melody, though, mourning Gabriel’s suicide, has no interest in Leo; nor does she notice that her assistant, Boase, fighting his alcoholic demons, also loves her. Instead, she finds herself drawn to Valentina. Melody’s student Fisk witnesses more than he’d like of the adult entanglements while taking music lessons from Leo, working for Valentina in the garden, and rehearsing a school production of, what else, Twelfth Night, directed by Melody. Leo throws a gala party to impress Melody, but, before the party, Jonathan arrives looking for Valentina. He and Melody make love and come to the party together. Poor Boase, tricked by his students, makes a fool of himself by showing up in costume. When Valentina arrives transformed, Cinderella-style, Leo finally notices her beauty and almost kisses her. Melody and Jonathan move in together. Boase goes into rehab. Fisk, the most developed character here despite his age, gets his girl, and Valentina, who has left town in romantic despair, returns in time for Leo to declare his love.

As pretentious as its title suggests: an update that lacks energy despite all the “madcap” confusion.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 2005
ISBN: 0-8129-7328-3
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2004


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