Written by Lauren Groff, this story is one that contains all the elements of good narrative. There is drama, there is conflict, there is a pace that keeps steady and builds and recedes with the plot points. It also scored high with me because it reminded me a bit of Marquez’s style of stating facts, and had this accept it or not attitude that jeeps one reading.
The story is intriguing: An older man, a former Olympiad swimmer and poet, needing money, hired to give swimming lessons to a sixteen year-old girl, crippled by polio. She, determined to seduce him; he, at first repulsed by her withered legs and helplessness, eventually she succeeds and they successfully consummate their illicit love affair under the nose of her wealthy father and the hopeful nurse who has her own eyes and heart set on Dad.
There is an underlying theme of misery and death set in the background of WW I and the epidemic that spread throughout Europe and into the U.S. and took thousands of lives. There is a difference in the pain of these two lovers and their problems which are heightened when she becomes pregnant and they sneak away to live with his mother, knowing her father will prohibit any such relationship.
They are happy enough with their young son, but she never quite recovers from childbirth and he, in a show of true love, insists upon her returning home to her father where she can receive better care. The two are found out, kept separate, and live their lives never meeting again except in a small twist at the end well into their old age.
It is a well written story, much in the style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez where the impossible is possible and love somehow triumphs even while lovers are kept apart. The sharp and clear-clipped sentences are determined to tell the story without overdramatizing the situation, in fact, keeping a highly emotional love story nearly emotionless in its earthy reality.
Truly enjoyed this one and look forward to reading further work from Lauren Groff.