A Little Love Song
Attitude: Take Care
In Brief: A sexual encounter between a young unmarried couple. Scorn for society's treatment of unmarried mothers.
Published in: 1991
Age Range: Mid Teens+
Period: Mid 20th C
Setting: South Coast of England
- Rose is a 17-year-old youngster who's not academically inclined, but who wants to go into writing.
- Diana is Rose's older sister, unaware of how attractive she is, and less ambitious than Rose.
- Derek is a young man, Rose's age, staying in the village.
- Alec is slightly older than Derek, discharged with a nervous condition, and looked down upon practically as a deserter. He runs a bookshop in the village and introduces Rose to books she won't come across at school.
Rose & Diana are left unchaperoned after their aunt is taken ill, but decide to hide the fact from their actor mother, off on a tour, as they feel old enough to look after themselves. The cottage they're renting was owned by “Mad Hilda” whose diary Rose finds. It turns out that she was “mad” only because she had a child before she was married and her rigid parents had her locked up in an asylum for nearly ten years and the baby taken away and adopted.
Diana helps out in the village and becomes quite a popular figure, while Rose grows closer to Derry & Alec and starts to write her first book, influenced by Hilda's diaries.
Literary: Told in the author's usual style which manages to keep a wider story going while focusing on the thoughts of the main characters.
Social Attitudes: The story portrays one young woman's struggle to find her own way, in spite of her well-meaning parents, friends and sisters, and reflects the obstacles put in the way of another woman, treated cruelly by her own family. The author portrays a contrast in social attitudes partly brought about by the demands of war, partly already in the making: society's expectations for unmarried mothers versus the present reality of the hotel where several of them are living; the wholesale disapproval of the GIs by the upper class in the area versus their kindness and cheerfulness; the care which Rose's school takes to protect its pupils from some forms of literature versus the liberating effect it has when Rose reads it in Alec's bookshop. All of these and more are held up for consideration.
Modesty & Decency: In a book where most of the main characters are female, there's a certain amount of indelicacy, especially when Dot, one of the unmarried mothers from the Hotel and the girls' friend, gives birth in their cottage with only Rose to help.
Rose makes love with Derry, believing him to be going off to fight, and then later with Alec, feeling the warmth of his welcome to her.
“I don't want to be trapped in a house. If I had to get married I'd like to be the one that goes out and earns the money and I'd like the man to stay at home and do the cooking.”
Alec rose and extricated his pipe from between two books on the mantelpiece. “Sounds like you don't want to be your idea of what a woman should be.”
“So be the way you want to be.”
Rose started at him.
“Or better still, be the way you are,” he said.
“Don't try to change,” she stammered. “Is that what you're saying?”
“Yes.” He laughed. “Funnily enough, you'll probably change more when you stop trying. Are you all right? You look shocked.”
“I am. I'm not used to hearing some tell me to be the way I already am. I usually only feel that when I'm on my own or when I'm writing.”
Wednesday 5th November 2003