"And love -- ah, what can I say about love that you, all too human, do not already know? Love yourselves! Love those around you! Love those you do not even know! Waste not your love on God, Who does not expect it and does not need it. For if He is perfect and eternal, then He needs nothing. You are Man, and it is Man you must love. Love wards off loneliness. Love warms the spirit no matter how cold the body might be. Love is the light of Man!" (p. 336)
My- it has taken me months to slog through this book. First published in 1985 by an Australian (Colleen McCullough- of "The Thorn Birds" - fame), I found it one Sunday in May when Kevin very graciously dropped me off in Fortitude Valley for the weekly outdoor, Chinatown Tai Chi class. Except, the Tai Chi gods had decided that May was too much like "winter" and, therefore, there could be no class. Kevin - after leaving me at the Brunswick Street Mall - headed into the city to do some work at his office. His locked office. His locked office from which he would emerge 2 and 1/2 hours later to let me in. So, I flipped through the books at the the used book stall in Chinatown market and picked up this novel. I'm not sure when this copy was printed. The last "printed" date listed is 1992. It originally sold in Australia for $10.95. So, now ten or fifteen years later I bought it for $5.00. I certainly wish we could have obtained that kind of money for all the books I eliminated from our collections before moving from Cleveland.
It took me almost 200 pages of fine print to become engaged with this book. (I do have a problem with letting go of relationships that aren't satisfying!) Beyond being - what is the word? - SLOW, I kept finding myself mildly irritated by the scattered bits of misogynism from a book written in what I felt should have been a reasonably feminist time and taking place in what I believed would be a more enlightened future. Additionally, this Australian has set her novel in "the United States in the not-too-distant future" - yet, for reasons never revealed or maybe even considered, the last president (Augustus Rome) had been in office for four terms and a similar longevity seems likely for the current president. It is probably just me feeling hypercritical- but that's a pretty big departure from American government sensibilities... you know, the 22nd Amendment. Still, I suppose it is no greater change than having a King of Australia and New Zealand. (I learned of that much later.)
Anyway, by the time I found myself yesterday spending all morning at the "Women's Imaging Center"- paying almost $400 for my much postponed mammogram with bonus breast ultrasound - I was hooked. And, as a consequence of that 2 hour wait and 35 minute train ride home and doing nothing yesterday afternoon or this morning, I have finished the book. I enjoyed it- but I'd recommend to anyone interested to start reading midway through. I'll tell you the beginning. In about 6 sentences.