The Love Child by Edith Olivier was first published in 1927 and has just been reprinted by British Library.
The tale begins with the funeral of Agatha Bodenham’s mother. Agatha is an only child, a 32 year old spinster, and she hadn’t really been particularly close to her mother. They had both been rather introverted and had led fairly solitary lives, so Agatha finds herself thinking of the imaginary friend Clarissa that she had had throughout her childhood, but a disdainful governess had caused Agatha to give up on her imaginary friend at the age of 14.
Now in her loneliness Agatha’s thoughts go back to those days when she had had the companionship of Clarissa. Agatha’s imagination runs riot as she becomes so enamoured with the thought of Clarissa and begins to play with her as she did. Others are perplexed when they see her dashing around in the garden for no apparent reason, they can’t see her playmate. Eventually Clarissa begins to appear in front of other people which is a bit awkward as Agatha has to pretend that she has adopted the little girl. The relationship that Agatha has with Clarissa works wonders for Agatha’s personality as Clarissa is popular with servants and staff wherever they go and the popularity is reflected back on Agatha, her life has expanded and been enriched – but will it last?
This is a strange story but I did enjoy it although I found it to be quite a sad read, dealing as it does with a solitary woman, one of many in those post Great War days. As ever with this British Library Women Writer’s series the story is accompanied by a short but interesting timeline of the 1920s, some information on the author and various other bits and pieces including an Afterword by Simon Thomas.
Thank you to British Library for sending me a copy of this book for review.