A sweeping story of three generations of women, crossing from London to Ireland and back again, and the enduring effort to retrieve the secrets of the past
It’s London, 1960, and Aoife Kelly—once the sparkling object of young men’s affections—runs pubs with her brusque, barking husband, Cash. Their courtship began in wartime London, before they returned to Ireland with their daughters in tow. One of these daughters—fiery, independent-minded Rosaleen—moves back to London, where she meets and begins an affair with the famous sculptor Felix Lehmann, a German-Jewish refugee artist over twice her tender eighteen years. When Rosaleen finds herself pregnant with Felix’s child, she is evicted from her flat, dismissed from her job, and desperate to hide the secret from her family. Where, and to whom, can she turn?
Meanwhile, Kate, another generation down, lives in present-day London with her young daughter and husband, an unsuccessful musician and destructive alcoholic. Adopted and floundering to find a sense of herself in the midst of her unhappy marriage, Kate sets out to track down her birth mother, a search that leads her to a Magdalene Laundry in Ireland and the harrowing history that it holds.
Stirring and nostalgic at moments, visceral and propulsive at others, I Couldn’t Love You More is a tender, candid portrait of love, sex, motherhood, and the enduring ties of family. It is impossible not to fall under the spell of this tale of mothers and daughters, wives and muses, secrets and outright lies.
This is a used copy in very good condition.
By Esther Freud. Paperback, 384 pages. Published by Ecco, 2021.