Entertainment

Jane Smiley Reviews “Learwife,” by JR Thorp

“Learwife” is written in an easy-to-understand modern style, but it takes place in an unspecified historical period where Christians and Christians coexist with pre-Christian belief systems religion, and this combination of modern style (and to some extent, a modern sense of the protagonist’s inner life) has its limitations – a reader wants to envision wider society and determining where the novel is taking place is unlucky (although one clue is that in the first chapter, the son of one of the nobles is showing the Arabic numbers of Lear and his wife When he told them what zero means, Lear said, “If I have nothing, I certainly don’t need its sign” and the queen said, “You can’t let it be.” space again?”). Arabic numerals replaced Roman numerals in England in the 1400s (the original King Leir, according to Geoffrey on Monmouth in the 12th century, had been king of England in the 8th century BC). Thorp wants us to see the universality of the emotions of the queen, mother and wife removed from history and also the specific tragedy of her family. She’s a fascinating character – older than Lear, formerly married to another king she adores but who doesn’t reciprocate her feelings, chosen to be Lear’s wife not only for her birth give him sons but also guide him as he learns to rule his kingdom. At one point, she said, “When I married my first husband, I was seventeen, a threatening moment in a girl’s youth: that hysteria. . . The second time, I was twenty-five years old to Lear was twenty, and stiffened. . . The great mystery to the wife and readers is why, shortly after the birth of Cordelia, she was imprisoned in the convent, where she had been for 15 years.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/jane-smiley-learwife/2021/12/05/55c15c6e-1a0c-11ec-a99a-5fea2b2da34b_story.html Jane Smiley Reviews “Learwife,” by JR Thorp

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