I loved the concept of Jane Alison’s THE LOVE-ARTIST. What could be more fabulous than to get to know the famous poet Ovid and try to understand some of the mysteries of his life, like why he was banished from Rome, and why only two lines from his play MEDEA survive.
And in the beginning, I was not disappointed. Ms. Alison is an accomplished writer whose novel shows remarkable scholarship and a real sensitivity for how people thought in those days. Like many others, I thought her novel was beautifully written and I loved her descriptions.
But after a while, the novel palled. The problem was that the mechanics of telling the story were not well deployed. Everything about this novel was so indirect, with characters watching one another rather than engaging with one another. After a while, this became repetitive. The tensions rippling below the surface needed to be dramatized. People needed to show their emotions in tense dialogue, body gestures and raw words.
By the time I’d read half of this novel I no longer cared what was going to happen to Ovid and his lady-love. Which was a great pity. Three stars.