Sometimes it takes a little time for a bright, young wife to explain something quite simple to her quiet, sensible husband.
“You see Harry is giving this dinner on purpose so Daphne shall meet Van Buren by accident. You know all about Van Buren, the Van Buren - the millionaire, who turns out to be a dear creature and quite charming, and has taken the greatest fancy to Harry, and clings on to him, and keeps on and on asking him to ask him to meet people. You must own it would be rather jolly for Daphne, because, of course, you can’t think how he’s run after – I mean Van Buren - and he isn’t an ordinary American snob, and it really and truly isn’t only his millionairishness, but he’s a real person, and good-looking and nice as well; and though, Heaven knows, I’m as romantic as anybody – for myself – I wouldn’t be so selfish as to be romantic for her too, and I can’t help feeling it’s out duty, being in the place of parents to her, to give the angel a sporting chance!”
Fortunately Romer was bright, and he loved Valentia more than enough to do whatever he could to make her happy.
Just one conversation brought the couple and their world completely to life, and opened the door to a lovely comedy of manners, light as air but with just enough serious underpinnings to stop it floating off into the ether.
A wonderful company assembled for that dinner, and though the match-makers plans didn’t succeed, it introduced a host of wonderful characters who would become entangled in ways that were quite unexpected.
An aspiring actress, who endeavoured to be a social butterfly while living in a basement flat with her beloved mother, found herself the beloved of a tattooed man, invited in the hope that he would entertain the American millionaire.
Their romance was lovely, and I was a little sorry that they sailed off into the sunset quite early in the book. I missed them, but there was a great deal else happening that held my attention.
A successful playwright, swept away by the romance and excitement of it all, found himself making an unplanned proposal.
Young Daphne was smitten by a ‘baby guardsman’, and by his mother’s seemingly idyllic life in the country.
And Valentia began to wonder if she has married the right man. If she might have been happier with her charming, sophisticated cousin, Harry…
Every character is beautifully drawn and acutely absorbed, by an author who knows exactly when to display with, when to draw out pathos, when to shine a clear light, and does all of those things so very, very well.
She brought their world to life and I could hear so many wonderful dialogues in my head, because they were so real and so right.
Best of all she understood, she really did.
That allowed her to make some telling points quite naturally. Romance may cloud our judgement. We may not like to admit it, but money does make life easier. Appearances and first impressions are so very important …
The Limit is one hundred and one years old, and though much has changed human nature has changed not one iota.
At the heart of the story was a love triangle: Valentia, Romer and Harry.
Ada Leverson caught the differing charms of the two men in Valentia’s life beautifully.
“He had, in fact, a genius for love-making, but he had not, like Romer, a genius for love. Harry had all the gift of expression – poor Romer had only the gift of feeling.”
I’m inclined to say poor Harry, not poor Romer. I loved Romer!
Think about it…
But it wasn’t up to me, it was up to Valentia. Or maybe it wasn’t. What happened was quite unexpected, but utterly right.
The ending was wonderful. Not everyone was entirely happy, there were loose ends, but it was right.
And the right time to say goodbye to a fine entertainment.