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Review - The Portrait of A Lover by John Wheatcroft

In still another Inverted-A Press publication with a wow factor, John Wheatcroft's - Portrait of a  Lover - delivers everything in excellence that any work of fiction should have to offer.  More than a romance novel, Portrait of a Lover, leaps out at the reader with questions we all should ask or have asked at various times when it comes to the subject of love.  

Just exactly what defines a love affair of the heart, mind, and body?  Perhaps, in trying to affix a label on the true definition of love and romance, no two human beings will ever agree what love or romance is and even more importantly what love and romance aren't.  However, John Wheatcroft's superb book will certainly have anyone reading it thinking upon the subject of love deeply and hopefully in ways never contemplated before.

As someone who has been married forty-three years, I’ve had a lot of time to think about love and romance. That’s especially true since my forty-three years of love and romance has been tempered with the reality that those impressive numbers of years were spread out among three different husbands.  

However, before I go any further into my thoughts about this book, I am reminded of a rather long  passage by Carson McCullers, from The Ballad of the Safe Cafe and Other Stories (another excellent author and book by-the-way):

“First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons — but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved.  There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which had lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto.  And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing.  He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer.  So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world — a world intense and strange, complete in himself.  Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring — this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth."
"Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love.   A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past..  The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else — but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit..  A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp.   A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll.  Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself."

In Portrait of a Lover, the main character,  Sarah Hevers, knows what I've come to know -- that all of life is about "love."  This fact has always been true.  It always was.  It always will be.  And like life,  love has many definitions, but not always the commonly held belief about love having to be between two lovers, but sometimes of a love simply more mysterious, deeper -- and in the case of this book it is unreciprocated love, and that sometimes (not always), is quite enough because it is perfect in so many ways that reciprocated love can never achieve.  

In contrast to the book, but central to Portrait of a Lover, one definition of "the portrait of a romance novel reader," might be defined as those who love reading such books about love -- all kinds of love, and especially about unconventional love and the kind of love affair that leaves you thinking long after you've closed the book enough to question your own definitions of love -- and that is what John Wheatcroft delivers in Portrait of a Lover, a story so expertly crafted that readers will not soon forget the depth of love Sarah Hevers' love.

About the Author - John Wheatcroft

Author John Wheatcroft - American novelist, poet, and playwright

Author John Wheatcroft - American novelist, poet, and playwright

For those of you who are unfamilar with John Wheatcroft's impressive career as a novelist, poet, and playwright -- his works have been featured in The New York Times, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and in 1996 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.