Childish Loves: A Novel
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The last piece of a literary puzzle falls into place in the final novel of Benjamin Markovits’s Byron trilogy.
When his former colleague Peter Sullivan dies, Ben Markovits inherits unpublished manuscripts about the life of Lord Byron―including the novels Imposture and A Quiet Adjustment. Ben’s own literary career is in the doldrums, and he tries to revive it by publishing and writing about his dead friend, whose reimagining of Byron’s lost memoirs―titled Childish Loves―may provide a key to Sullivan’s own life and tarnished reputation.
Acting as a literary sleuth, Ben sorts through boxes of Sullivan’s writing; reads between the lines of his scandalous, Byron- inspired stories; meets with the Society for the Publication of the Dead; and tracks down people from Peter’s past in an effort to untangle rumor from reality. In the process, he crafts a masterful story-within-a-story that turns on uncomfortable questions about childhood and sexual awakening, innocence and attraction, while exploring the lives of three very different writers and their brushes with success and failure in both literature and life.
beneath them. In the mornings I fenced with Pietro on deck until we were hot enough to swim; and sometimes, in the afternoons, Trelawny and I boxed together or shot at birds – which, however, I have a horror of eating. I confined myself throughout to a diet of ship’s biscuit, Cheshire cheese and pickled onions. On the 2nd of August, we came in view of Cephalonia, with Zante beside it; the mountains of the Morea stood up faintly against the horizon. It was a sobering sight. Most of us had gathered
kettle, growing more insistent all the time. ‘She writes a very fair hand,’ was all Miss Wollaston said, on returning the letter to me. ‘Of course,’ Mary added, ‘she is perfect in all things. I long to meet her brother.’ * I have been staying occasionally at Annesley in what Mary calls the nursery, for she played there as a child; but the room has been re-fitted since, with a canopied bed and a side-table and a basin. Her old school desk is still pushed against the window, which overlooks the
cousins!’ Mr Musters cried. ‘You see, I mean to adopt Miss Pigot’s excellent phrase.’ He gave her his hand, and she stepped delicately from the boat. ‘I don’t like this cave,’ Mary continued. ‘We thought you had all gone. I don’t see what is so wonderful about a cave. It is like going to a great house and making sure to visit the cellars or the pantry, or any other dark, dirty corner. It is a low taste.’ ‘I agree with you entirely, Miss Chaworth,’ Mrs Pigot said. ‘A low taste, and what is
he heard the news, and presiding over his mother’s dead body. She had died a few months after his return but before he’d taken the trouble to see her. ‘Oh Mrs By,’ he said to her maid, ‘I had but one friend in the world, and she is gone!’ Later he wrote to Hobhouse a little more coolly or coldly: ‘Indeed when I looked on the Mass of Corruption, which was the being from whence I sprang, I doubted within myself whether I was, or She was not.’ Edleston was dead already – had died of consumption a
father, and when my heart stopped racing, I felt relieved to have done nothing wrong, even in my dreams. But not only relieved – it seemed a little strange to me, as I made my sleepless way to the airport (my father drove me) and waited in all the places you wait in an airport, that even in my dreams I had undressed her and turned her away. * When I got back to Boston I called up an old college roommate of mine whose father works at the Globe. I wanted to find Mike Scanlon, the reporter who