Though penned in the 1920s, The Constant Nymph has a feel of the Woodstock Festival about it.
The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy
William Heinemann Ltd., 1924; The Dial Press, Virago Modern Classic with introduction by Anita Brookner, 1984, 336 pages. 1925 bestseller #2. My grade: B-.
Albert Sanger, a 1920’s equivalent of a flower child, composes unappreciated work in an Alpine chalet in the company of a “circus” of children by two wives, his current mistress, and whoever takes him up on his lavish invitations to drop in.
Fellow composer Lewis Dodd, one of the more frequent visitors, has captivated 14-year-old Tessa.
When Sanger dies suddenly, a cousin approaching spinsterhood swoops in and carts Tessa and the younger children to England to be properly educated.
Cousin Florence also snares Lewis and carts him home to England to properly marketed.
The Sanger children and Lewis don’t take well to Florence’s intentions. Lewis realizes Tessa has always been faithful to him— meaning she’s always given him his own way—and he takes steps to secure her continued constancy.
Margaret Kennedy’s romantic characters are interested in nothing but themselves. Florence and her father, the most unromantic characters in the book, are the only ones that take any interest in people who can’t help them.
Kennedy spins a good yarn, but it’s essentially a trivial yarn. If the novel is to have any point, the reader will have to insert it.
© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni