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The Republic Of Love (1994)

The Republic of Love (1994)

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3.75 of 5 Votes: 5
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0394224175 (ISBN13: 9780394224176)
vintage canada

About book The Republic Of Love (1994)

Tom Avery enjoys women to excess.First, there is the abundance of mothers who tended to his care. Twenty-seven, to be exact. Oh, sure, only one actually gave birth to him, but he is a true product of getting raised by a village. Prior to turning forty, he went through three wives. Ever the optimist, he knows there will be a fourth.Fellow Winnipegian Fay McLeod isn’t even sure she knows how to love, much less do so in such a hyperbolic state as Tom. What she does know, most resolutely, is that the man she has dated and lived with and been partnered to for five years – with whom she owns a condo – is not someone she wants to live with any longer. Their relationship has run its course, and Fay wants to end it.Despite having quite a few friends in common, Tom and Fay have not met. He, a midnight disc jockey, frequents singles meetings, ostensibly because he knows his judgment in selecting the future Mrs. Tom needs some tweaking, but actually as a way to meet women. She is a folklorist who specializes in studying mermaids. They may know the same people, but their paths do not cross.But of course they eventually do. Tom is immediately smitten and is determined to express his love and passion. Fay, completely unaccustomed to such a quick rush of intense feelings, is relieved to be headed to Europe for research; she wants to take advantage of this time to make sense of how she feels. When she receives a passionate love letter from Tom, she wonders if she loves him too.Fay eventually returns home, and she and Tom begin to discover, appraise, create, and revise their relationship. Theirs truly is a case of opposites attracting, and it frightens Fay, much more than it does Tom. After all, he’s already had three wives and nearly thirty mothers. He greedily and eagerly embraces the optimism of love, whereas Fay’s reticence and fear convince her that love – whatever that may be – is temporal at best. Is she practical or fatalistic? Is Tom naive or addicted to the rush?Carol Shields approaches these questions by making us slowly fall in love with Tom and Fay. He’s like an overgrown puppy, so full of enthusiasm and affection that you can see why he’s maintained good relationships with his exes (for the most part). His feelings for Fay are genuine and not at all something he wishes to hide or tamper down. It’s love! Real love! So what’s life all about if not feeling love and sharing love and giving love and making love? Fay would respond that life is for living in moderation, and where love is concerned, one must approach with skepticism and realism. They call it “falling” in love for a reason, Fay believes, because eventually you hit the ground and it all ends. She is more difficult to like than Tom, but yet her temperance is appealing. We understand her, even though we wish we were more enthusiastic like Tom.The Republic of Love, then, is not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy, wherein each of us lives with our own definitions, constructs, and appreciations of love, where we are free to express and experience our feelings, even when others don’t share them. Can Fay and Tom find their way together? Can he soothe her fears while she moderates his exuberance?Read and find out. You won’t regret it.Published on cupcake's book [email protected]

I didn't really buy it - that ending where everyone ends up in love and together. When Fay broke away from Tom - that was believable, if only because something very similar happened to me, but alas, or hooray, we did not end up together happily ever after. But I did find that sequence of chapters on the breakups the most riveting and convincing. Unfortunately other stretches of chapters dragged by without engagement or depth. People were ciphers - she has commitment issues, he has commitment issues. But no one seemed to gain understanding of why they were like this, beyond mystical allusions to 27 mothers, and mermaids... somehow. Yes yes, I get Fay is supposed to be the mermaid, and somehow Tom is the lonely sailor on endless empty seas - - - but mermaids lure sailors to their death - I'm not sure how death fits into the overall story, unless it is death of the individual.Hah. The father should've kept running, BiBi too. But no they all come back to the fold - driven by the fear of loneliness, or aloneness, rather than any realistic idea of love and commitment. Love as a bulwark against the horror...Its insidious, feeding on people hopes. In the end it is insistent on the idea of it being the natural and healthy state for people to be together, of people belonging, of being claimed. Of it to be the way to be - happy? Content? Fulfilled? Authentic? - - - way too prescriptive and absolute and exclusive:“it is impossible for us to live outside the culture we're born into. Our communities claim us from the start, extending a Thousand tentacles of possession, and Fay, a reasonable, intelligent woman, has long recognised that reverence for individualism is one of the prime perversions of contemporary society. It is a logical and foolish. Oh yes. You're bound to each other biologically and socially, intellectually and spiritually, and to abrogate our supporting network is to destroy ourselves”She lost me here completely in her novel. Actually wrote in the book, "Really!" - I never write in books, it feels faintly blasphemous. But the statement is outrageous. Like many people have a choice. Like being alone is the worst most horrible thing in the world - it's better to be in a shit relationship than none at all? Really? And it's odd she uses the word "abrogate" - it feels like an authorial intervention rather than anything Fay would say. But I carried on reading with a sense of duty rather than engagement... The novel speaks of someone observing without insight. It does not speak to huge swathes of people who don't fit this lovely little smug niche. It reminds me of one of those Gothic novels held up for consideration in Austin's Northanger Abbey - its fantasy.EDIT: since read Larry's Party and Unless - this one's definite a dud - these two are brilliant.

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For the first third or more of The Republic of Love a Dickensian plethora of minor characters abounds, but they are used in quite a different way to how Dickens uses them - to create an impressionistic bubbling brook (or, in some cases, cesspit) of a community's varying experiences with that 'crazy little thing called love'. Therefore they become less of a chorus or a backdrop, than a pavement the story walks along but over which it will never retrace its steps.The main love story then kicks in, building and building with, as always in Shields, fascinating psychological insights that cause one's head to nod in recognition. And the love story continues to build, generating a feeling of the Great Glass Elevator in Willy Wonka - but just when it feels that the ceiling is about to be smashed - that one more minor character is too many, say, or that the concept of a totally 'shiny happy' bubble-wrapped love is not conducive to continuing to read - something will happen to make you see that Shields really does want to make you think, and herein lies her method of doing so in this book - the use of excess to make a point - and it does work, but it requires bearing with the excess to get the point she's making.Overall it's not my favourite Shields. The main characters at times felt too distant, the secondary characters I felt didn't add enough to the main story, the deus ex machina at the end magnifies the sense of overall distance, and the book felt like it needed to be longer to enable more development. It is also disquieting that overall the book has a didactic feel to the promotion of being in a relationship. But I'm glad I read it, and it did have page turning quality which kept me engrossed. I look forward to reading many more of Shields's works.

I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.This is the second book written by Carol Shields that I have read.The story of the main characters, Fay and Tom, was not able to keep reader’s interest into the plot. The narrative just flows without any further engagement. As in “The Stone Diaries” which won Man Booker Prize Nominee for Shortlist (1993), Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1995), National Book Critics Circle Award (1994), I wasn’t able to go really deep in the reading of this new novel, even if I am a big of the Canadian contemporary fiction. I must confess this was a very disappointing read, what a pity.2* The Stone Diaries1* The Republic of Love

Re-reading this book for the first time in many years, and Shields's writing seems as fresh and perceptive as ever. Like this perfect paragraph: The plane bobbed and plunged, and ropes of lightning jerked past the windows, but to her surprise she was not in the least frightened. It seemed to her that as long as she kept her nose in People, she would be safe. The slick paper and the faint electrical charge that clasped one page to the next formed part of a hieratic defense, and by running her eyes along the lines of print, she was helping to keep the plane aloft.The many Winnipeg references are also dead-on.

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