But not for love by Elizabeth Savage

“But these are all lies: men have died from time
to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”

Rosalind to Orlando in «As You Like it» by William Shakespeare.

I came upon Elizabeth Savage thanks to Thomas Savage, and yes, I read him because of the recent movie. He dedicates his book, The Power of The Dog, to his wife, the also writer, Elizabeth Savage.

I think that reading both writers makes for a clearer understanding of their books, there are threads in his book that, although smoothly delivered, on second thought, we are not clear where they came from, or where do they’re meant to go.

Thomas Savage has a habit of casting a gilded veil over the events, especially when it comes to The Family which is the god that he, for the best or for the worst, has chosen to worship throughout his life. Truthfully, I wasn’t able to reconcile myself with what he, and subsequently many readers, considered a satisfying ending to The Power of the Dog. If hell is the inability to love, in the author’s own words, then having the so-called bad guy stripped, violated, as the book puts it, of all that that he is, and ultimately killed, because apparently there is no redemption through love allowed for the likes of him, and all because he opens up his heart to love someone that the author’s freely admits is a self-insert is confusing to say the least. You ask yourself what on earth happened to this man. Then to have all of this dedicated to his wife? A wife who was also his editor, as the two enjoyed a very close professional relationship till the end?

I have since then, learned of the events that preceded the book, and while I was able to better understand why the author has his alter ego kill the gay character in his book the way he did,  I was still curious to learn what said wife made of the offering of such bloody, thorny  gift.

And while his narrator voice runs much smoother, except perhaps in the Last Night at the Ritz, there is much in his writing that is strives for absolutes: good and evil, right and wrong that don’t quite convince, perhaps because the writer himself isn’t convinced, her author voice is more detached, her perspective unwavering. She paints the other half of their image of family life with humour and self-possession—without doubts. Her conviction in her beliefs is firm, the ground is not shifting beneath her, and it no longer matters if your outlook on life matches hers, because now you’re a just reader, and your heart no longer squeezes as you’re offered glimpses into the turmoil of someone else’s life between the lines.

Thomas Savage had always denied that is work is autobiographical, but understanding his circumstances helps in deciphering his writings.

Make of this what you will, but you can find Elizabeth Savage’s books in digital libraries online, if you wish to compare.

The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage, first published in 1967

For my wife

From the first shocking paragraph to the last shattering page, The Power of the Dog will demand your total attention. Long after you have finished, you will hear its voices speaking and live in the bold landscape of its world. The Power of the Dog is like no other novel you will read this year.

The Power of the Dog is the story of a man whose inability to express his love drove him to express his cruelty—and of a boy who understood this and learned to put it to his own use. It is the story of a woman—the boy’s mother—who was the victim of this cruelty as the boy’s father has been before her. It is the story of two brothers divided by this cruelty. And it is story of the triumph of love over cruelty—a triumph whose unsparing logic you will forget.

Realistic in its narrative means, almost biblical in the conviction of its moral ends, The Power of the Dog is a novel in the finest tradition of American fiction. It is the work of an artist whose understanding of the dark cellars of the human heart is matched and richly informed by his understanding of its light-filled chambers, its hope, its kindest dreams.

But Not For Love by Elizabeth Savage, first published in 1970

But not for love is a comical-tragical story about a family and a summer—a novel in which things are not as they seem.

The family is the Hollister clan: Francesca is dramatic, Warren is gentle, Barbara is domineering, Barney is virile, Tim is alcoholic, Peter is angry, Winifred is uneasy, and Noel is dead.

For the Hollisters, their in-laws, lovers and friends, the setting is familiar: a beautiful, rocky promontory on the coast of Maine not far from Bath. The Hollisters have always summered here; they are a fixture of the hamlet of Rodger’s Ferry, and no one in the village can recall a time when the cluster of oddly assorted houses on the Point was not inhabited by one generation or another of Hollisters. To an outsider they seem very close; for a Hollister this means that deception must be subtle.

But this summer Rodger’s Ferry has lost its complacency: the family is the same, but Noel’s apparent suicide has precipitates strange changes. Delusions are laid bare, unsuspected passions erupt, lifelong habits fall apart. On the surface the alterations seem to have come about as a result of love. But this is a book haunted by gentle cynicism, a cynicism which begins with the title taken from As You Like It: “Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”

Last Night at the Ritz by Elizabeth Savage, first published in 1973

Four old friends meet for a festive lunch. The afternoon passes, but the party goes on. By the end of the evening, there are no secrets left among them.

Except one, which proves to be the most devastating of all.

Intelligent, captivating, and as admits, not entirely trustworthy, the narrator of The Last Night at the Ritz regards her approaching birthday with wry amusement. She entertains few illusions about herself and understands from experience the rules and rhythms that balance relationships between women and men. She also knows when to break the rules. Or, on this occasion, to bend them a little to see what happens.

She invites three friends to join her for lunch at Boston’s elegant Ritz-Carlton. Two of them, Len and Gay, are a long-married couple she has known since college days. The third, Wes, was once her lover.

But her party takes an unexpected turn. The present intrudes upon their celebration. Secrets slip out, and gradually the narrator is drawn closer to a confrontation with the future that she must face alone.

If I had your face by Frances Cha

Four young women in Seoul making their way in a world defined by impossibly high standards of beauty, secret room salons catering to wealthy men, strict social hierarchies, and K-pop fan mania.

Well, considering the title, it’s no wonder the beginning makes for a pretty scary read, particularly the world viewed through the eyes of one of the characters.

I ended up cheering for all of them, though, so I would say this was a satisfying read, and a good choice for getting back on track.


Here’s the Goodreads link.

An Excess Male and a Goodreads interview with author Maggie Shen King

an excess male

The debut novel An Excess Male is set in a near-future China in the aftermath of its One-Child Policy and cultural bias for male heirs. In the book 40 million men are unable to find wives, and the government has mandated that its families demonstrate patriotism and help solve the crisis by taking on additional husbands.

An Excess Male presents a new twist on the age-old marriage plot. It’s the story of one excess male, the less-than-perfect family he seeks to join, and the fight for their version of home as well as the country they have lost to a regime that aimed to control reproduction and define the boundaries of marriage in the name of the public good. Read the rest of the interview here.

Svetlana Alexievich—Voices from Big Utopia

…Or, alternatively, when our dystopian fiction becomes our everyday reality.


From Svetlana Alexievich, author of War’s Unwomanly Face (1985), Last Witnesses (1985), Zinky Boys (1990), Voices from Chernobyl (1997), and Secondhand Time (2013). She has won many international awards, including the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Goodreads page:


I’m searching life for observations, nuances, details. Because my interest in life is not the event as such, not war as such, not Chernobyl as such, not suicide as such. What I am interested in is what happens to the human being, what happens to it in of our time. How does man behave and react. How much of the biological man is in him, how much of the man of his time, how much man of the man.”

“How many times has Art practised the Apocalypse, has tried out the most diverse technological versions of the end of the world, but now we positively know that life is incomparably much more fantastic.” “Chernobyl is an enigma yet to figure out. A symbol we don’t know to read. Perhaps, the conundrum of the XXI Century. A challenge for our times…The night of 26 April…During that unique night we relocate to another place in history. We made a jump toward a new reality, and this move ended up being not only beyond our knowledge, but beyond our imagination, too. The thread of time broke. Suddenly, our past becomes powerless; we didn’t find backing in it; in the omnipotent archive (at least, it had seemed so to us) of humanity we didn’t find the clues for opening  this door.

Those days I heard more than once, ‘I don’t find the words to communicate what I saw, what I experienced’, ‘I didn’t read about anything like this in any book, nor did I watch it at the cinema’, ‘nobody told me of anything like this’”

“The  zone…It’s a world apart. Another world in the middle of the rest of the Earth. Initially, it had been the science fiction writers who invented it, but literature relinquished its place in the face of reality.”


voices of Chernobyl

Voices from Chernobyl

 “At first, everybody talked about ‘catastrophe’, then about ‘nuclear war’. I’ve read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I saw documentaries.  It’s horrific, but something comprehensible: a nuclear war, the radial expansion of the deflagration. This I could imagine. But what happened to us…For this I lacked…I lacked knowledge, I lacked all these books that I read all my life.”… “Show me one fantastic novel about Chernobyl. It doesn’t exist! And it won’t exist! I assure you! It won’t exist.”

“…We need more than ever new books, because around us a new life is born. But in this life we are the strange ones. And there’s no way to resign yourself to it…The television  won’t educate our children, the teachers are the ones who need  to educate our children.”

“…I didn’t read books like this. Didn’t watch any films. I did saw war at the cinema…For example, you write; but it’s that that no book has helped me, has made me understand. Neither did the theatre nor the cinema. I try to shed light on it on my own. By myself…My mother, most of all, didn’t know what to say. She taught Russian language and literature and she had showed me to always live according to what’s put in the books. But suddenly there are no books for this. My mother felt lost. She doesn’t know to live without books.”

The Heroines Anthology

Looking forward to this week’s find: Heroines: An anthology of Short Fiction and Poetry from The Neo Perennial Press.

With a focus on reclaiming the stories of women in history and reimagining the heroines of legend, fairytale and mythology, in ways that are both resonant and startlingly new The Heroines Anthology presents a challenging and soulful collection that interrogates the traditional power dynamics of classic literature, while touching on the deeper questions of women’s true nature.


ReQueered Tales

… and a new home for that out-of-print book you’ve always meant to read. Like Freeform by Jack Dickson.
ReQueered Tales is proud to announce a new publishing venture to re-publish older gay and lesbian fiction — with an immediate focus on mystery, horror and suspense genres.
We are enthusiastic about a wealth of great fiction, some of which has fallen off the radar. A fantastic number of works, many published before 2000,
will now be available to a new generation of LGBT readers and their allies.
Website here.

New book and birthday giveaway

So happy. A friend’s new book is out. Oh, and there’s the editor’s birthday giveaway, too. 😉


It’s one thing to go on a family holiday, but quite another if you’ve just been dumped.

When it’s time for their annual family trip, Effie’s heart is still in a thousand pieces. No matter what her sister says, hooking up with someone new is the last thing on her mind. What she needs instead is the peace and quiet to finally start writing that book that’s been on the back-burner for years.

As soon as they arrive in Cyprus though, her eyes fall on Jess, an enigmatic bartender who ticks more of Effie’s boxes than her ex-girlfriend ever did. And the feeling seems mutual.

Effie’s set to keep things fun and light, but her attraction to Jess is more unnerving than she cares to admit. What if all this is too good to be true? Should Effie back away rather than risk more heartbreak?

If you love your sexy, seaside romance with a healthy dash of Scottish wit, Too Good to Be True? will keep you coming back for more.

Screenshot_2018-12-31 Facebook

Mariëlle 2


You can find more info through Amazon , MS Wordsmith’s blog here or giveaway info here.