This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
Alfred is a seven year-old boy in Hitler's Germany. When he and his father return from a short trip to the mountains his mother is gone. His father seems unconcerned and says maybe she's gone to visit her cousin. She never returns, indeed is never heard from again.
During WWII Alfred stays with his maiden aunts in the countryside. In the final days of the war he witnesses Russian soldiers rape one of them.
These two events subconsciously affect the rest of his life.
Alfred emigrates to Canada, becomes an engineer, marries Beth, and has a daughter, Carmen. Four years later he's divorced and moves to South Africa.
Now author Claudia Casper has the point of view fluctuate between Carmen, who lives with her mother and Alfred who is a serial adulterous and continues to get married and have families.
The Continuation of Love by Other Means is the story of this relationship. Specifically, it is a story about how one parent's life impacts on their child.
As Carmen grows up she visits her father in various parts of the world where he works as a mining engineer. She has fleeting relationships with her stepmothers and half-siblings and experiences different cultures.
It's apparent that being abandoned by his mother and seeing his aunt raped has psychologically affected Alfred, and I imagine the reader is supposed to take inferences as to how her father and his lifestyle affects the choices Carmen makes throughout her entire life.
This reader could never make that connection. The author seemed to develop a plot thread - an abusive relationship for Carmen, the "disappeared" in Argentina, and later Carmen's anxiety about her husband's fidelity, and then have them peter out.
Alfred's interest in caving and Carmen choosing to study the mating habits of little-known creatures is examined at some length, likely for metaphoric effect that again did not resonate with this reader.
The characters were unsympathetic and considering the book's title the story had a distinct lack of passion.
In the end, The Continuation of Love by Other Means is a tepid tale of a father and daughter relationship.
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