THE LOVES OF THEIR LIVES by Louis Baldwin

THE LOVES OF THEIR LIVES

Enduring Romantic Relationships From Antony and Cleopatra to Today
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Sketchy vignettes of 38 relationships, some romantic and enduring and some not, the subtitle notwithstanding. Baldwin (The Pope and the Mavericks, 1988--not reviewed, etc.) has selected subjects who are well known (though not necessarily for their love lives). HÇloise and AbÇlard, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, and Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are unsurprising inclusions; less likely entries include Golda Meir and her husband Morris Myerson, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, and Harry and Bess Truman. Baldwin illustrates the many faces of love--dutiful, passionate, constant, mercurial, illicit, matrimonial, self-serving, altruistic. Homosexual love is represented by Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, and Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Missing, however, are real insights into these relationships, and Baldwin, no confidant of his subjects, seeming to recognize the difficulty of shedding new light on their love lives, shifts attention to their careers and the historical contexts in which the relationships occurred: His chapters are as much history lessons as love stories. Occasionally, intriguing trivia surfaces--such as the fact that Antony and Cleopatra had twin sons; that Lady Hamilton managed to give birth to Lord Nelson's son at home without her husband's knowledge; and that Napoleon was two hours late for his wedding to Josephine. Overall, though, the tales lack charm, style, and point of view. Love may be a many-splendored thing, but Baldwin's palette is too bland to capture its essence. (Drawings and photographs- -not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55972-190-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993