Five things to steal from: The Eye of Love

This Five Things to Steal observation journal page is about five aspects of Margery Sharp’s The Eye of Love that I thoroughly enjoyed. (For background on the general exercise: Five Things to Steal.)

Double page spread of observation journal. Tiny handwritten observations. Notes on The Eye of Love

Margery Sharp’s The Eye of Love (1957) could be one of two books. It might be the tale of a doomed great love that happens to be between the owner of a very small company in 1930s London and his suburban mistress, both middle-aged and not conventionally lovely (to an outsider). Or it might be about how a very blunt and single-minded child who in other books grows up to be an artist begins to hone her eye. It is in either case a sweetly abrasive, sardonically indulgent, affectionately comic romance.

Handwritten notes on The Eye of Love
  • Grand passions happening just as much to ‘small’ people.
    This is, in a way, related to flipping stereotypes (the Caudwell manoeuvre) and to my love of contained, stagey worlds (staginess; little groves). But there’s a shifting, sly subtlety to Sharp’s approach, as she adjusts the tone and focus, so that now the book is sardonically using elevated phrasing for a mundane situation, now it is letting you feel how overpoweringly mythic that mundane situation is for the people in it.
  • People who are interested in a thing, and pursue it doggedly, even if perceived from outside as ridiculous.
    This is in relation to a girl who will become an artist, but it’s a little unusual in that the artist isn’t struggling with that single-minded focus. It’s closer to stories that focus on competence, and frequently the solving of mysteries, and it’s very nice.
  • Chaotic/overbearing people who are the authors of their own comeuppance BUT who also manage to spin the situation to appear (or be) advantageous.
    (This is also a very fun way to have a villainous villain who operates on the same level as the rest of the cast). Jane Austen and Charles Dickens do this gleefully as well.
  • A child’s interests shifting and maturing.
    Sharp treats this child (Martha) as a human with her own independent interests and concerns, which isn’t as common as it might be in books for adults, even for Sharp, and even when the child is the viewpoint character, unless the Plot Changes Them (very little could alter Martha against her will). And I also like any viewpoint character/narrator changing their interests as the book goes — including beginning to lose interest in the story! It’s such an effective way of feeling like the book takes place in time and that times are changing. Nevil Shute does this splendidly in No Highway.
    This approach also complements something else I enjoy: the observer-narrator who is not intimately involved in the heart of the action (see e.g. John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos).
  • Anticipated/potential friendships surviving what could look like betrayal.
    I like this so much! It’s such a relief when it happens. Non-default drama is a grand thing.
Scribbly ballpoint drawing of plane and bird shadows over grass, tree in distance
Plane shadow, crow shadow

2 thoughts on “Five things to steal from: The Eye of Love

  1. Pingback: Destroy Everything You Touch – Decoy 9/11

  2. Pingback: February 2023 — round-up of posts | Kathleen Jennings

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