Helen Bevington’s second volume of memoirs A BOOK AND A LOVE AFFAIR perhaps focuses more on the love affair part than the book part as it chronicles her meeting her future husband B when they are undergraduates in New York City and then documents their life together trying to make ends meet through the great depression as they both go to graduate school and are employed in academia. They raise two children up to and through World War II. The book also details trips they took abroad to Europe as well as a long cruise through Egypt via the Suez Canal and other places.
Unlike Bevington’s first volume of memoirs CHARLEY SMITH’S GIRL which I wrote about here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2013/07/charley-smiths-girl-by-helen-bevington.html there is nothing remotely sad about these life events. There is no great truth presented either. At the end, Bevington seems to recover an interest in poetry and writing after her children are older and her husband and her in steady jobs for a period of time.
But Bevington knows how to do something very few memoirists do. She can tell an interesting story about her life, some mundane aspect of it, without clouding that with judgment, with her own emotional response to the past. Instead, the narrative remains free of that clutter and we can make our own opinions about what is going on.
Bevington also doesn’t overdo it with the courtships scenes with her future husband. Too much cutesy would have ruined the story but instead she shows how their intellects build and meet one another and how that is a true love = physical love that is equally mental.
This is a simple book. No great tragedies or life lessons just love entwined as part of a creative person’s journey through life and that is love not promiscuity excused by the artistic mentality. I look forward to reading further volumes of Bevington’s life.