For lovers of literary fiction, The Romantic is Barbara Gowdy’s utterly absorbing tale of love, longing, and loss. It is the story of Louise, whose former beautyqueen mother disappears one day, leaving a note that reads only—and incorrectly—“Louise knows how to work the washing machine.” Louise promptly falls passionately in love with Mrs. Richter, the new neighbor, and then with Abel, Mrs. Richter’s nature-loving, enigmatic son. Despite the fact that Abel moves away, Louise becomes more and more fixated on him, discovering that she cannot get Abel to love her as fiercely as she loves him. Only when she is forced to confront another great loss is she finally able to confront the costs of losing herself to another.
The Romantic is a powerful exploration of the many incarnations of love in all of its painful and joyful variations, a novel that glows with Barbara Gowdy’s note-perfect style, gentle humor, and unforgettable characters.