Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: Byron in Love
Author: Edna O'Brien
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Release Date: August 2009
Year/Setting: 1788+ England
Overall Rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle/Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: None/Minimal
Edna's Website: www.ednaobrien.com
Wow. How to begin? I must tell you that I did not know much about the life and times of Lord George Gordon Byron. I'm a Shelley fan, myself. But, I must tell you, this poet extraordinaire was probably the most colorful, strange, romantic, insane, and vulgar poet known to mankind. Like alot of young men, nowadays, he blamed his mother for a great deal that was wrong with his life. The first such blame came from the fact that he was born with a club-foot, and that was mom's fault to the extreme.
The Lord is described beautifully on every page of this book. We're first told that Byron was, "five feet eight and a half inches in height, had a malformed right foot, chestnut hair, a haunting pallor, gray eyes fringed with dark lashes, and an enchantingness that neither men nor women could resist." As I "walked" through his short life, I was amazed to go to school with him where young men as lovely as he were dressed up as the female and used by other schoolboys. Don't feel bad about this, though. Byron certainly didn't. He loved men and women. His passions for life and love were never saddled by society. He thought himself far above his breed, too good to stay at college; too good, apparently, to worry about paying his debts.
Byron had a love for a father he hardly ever knew, and a bold hatred of the woman who probably sacrificed more for him than any mother would have. But, no matter how you want to dislike Byron, or feel sorry for him, the greatest feeling that sweeps over you is how much you wished you knew him, and had sat by his side to listen to his tales of adventure. In a way, I was reminded of another skilled and flamboyant writer by the name of Truman Capote. Another whose passion and intrigue would've filled the days of drudgery and boredom we all go through.
There are wonderful pages, as well, about the loss of Shelley - my favorite. And I want to tell you a scene from the book that really, to me, stands for every twisted hallway that made up Lord Byron's mind. In 1808, uncaring of the debts he'd already racked up, Byron had stonemasons, carpenters, upholsterers, the whole shebang, fix up his ancestral home. He installed "draperies, frills, valances, gilded four-posters, coronets, and true to his penchant for the macabre, he had skulls which had been found in the crypt, mounted on silver to be used as drinking cups." Beauty and death; a rich and frightening combination. A Don Juan for the world whose life was short, but filled with an undying passion to live the next day to the fullest. We could all learn from that. This was inspiring. I thank the writer for the hard work and intense study that went in to this work. Bravo!
Until next time, Amy
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