It is little secret that I love the wonderful publishing house of Persephone, and have discovered many a new friend amongst the dove grey covers of their books. Until now, I had not read Marghanit Laski, but the synopsis of To Bed With Grand Music on their website enticed me. It sounded as though it would have a little of the same flavour of that most wonderful of books, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.
I started reading it on Friday evening, and finished it on Saturday evening, when I was partaking of a midnight bath to try and bring some heat back into my chilled body after going to see the fireworks.
I was amazed at how some things never change- the book opens with a husband and wife saying farewell as he goes off to fight in the War. They talk of how much they will miss one another, and the husband consoles the wife by saying that he won’t promise to be physically faithful, as he couldn’t do without a woman for as long as the war might last, but he would only sleep with women that didn’t matter, so it wouldn’t really be cheating. As a wife (and I suspect, a woman!) I found this viewpoint flabbergastingly awful. Perhaps I am being naive, but I would hate to hear my husband saying such things to me! The reason things never change though is that quite a few years ago, just before I met my wonderful husband, I had a boyfriend who was going to go to Europe, exploring. On one of our last afternoons together, he gave me almost the same speech! Needless to say, that was the end of him, and thank goodness, as a short while later dear Carl came into my life.
But the point remains…if for a moment World War 2 seems a long time ago, suddenly, it seemed like it could be happening to a sister, or a friend.
The story itself is very interesting…the wife goes from being utterly sure of her own fidelity to a series of affaires, and the unravelling of her character, her persuasions and justifications are very fascinating to read. Alas, she is not a terribly likeable character, but the story is so well written, I devoured it and shall certainly read more of this author. I think she is going to be a new friend!
I have one thing troubling me though, and that is that I cannot decide for the life of me how I feel about the ending. In one way, it is very neat, as a certain occurance at the start is met full circle at the end; but another end it is very messy as much is unresolved.
I wonder if perhaps we are meant to infer and intuit more than I did, or perhaps the things that remain unresolved are not as important as I think they are…but I would have liked to have known what happens next!