Charles Baxter’s The Feast of Love is described as a sumptuous work of fiction about the thing that most distracts and delights us (Chicago Tribune). Compared to Midsummer Night’s Dream, this novel explores the lives of individuals when love becomes a complicated factor.
Beginning the novel Charlie Baxter leaves his house for a midnight walk through his Ann Arbor neighborhood. Passing two love stricken individuals on the fifty-yard line of a football field Baxter eventually encounters a friend on a bench, Bradley Smith.
Smith recommends Baxter write about him and title the book, “The Feast of Love.” In spite of Baxter’s opposition, Smith begins his story of love—beginning with that of him and his first wife Kathryn. After speaking with Smith, Baxter calls Kathryn and the audience hears her story of a lesbian affair.
The essential factor in this novel is Baxter’s jump from Smith’s point of view and his wife’s.
To summarize the novel: Kathryn, Smith’s ex-wife, left him for another woman. Diana, Smith’s second wife, is a cold and vicious sexual lawyer. Chloe and Oscar are a young couple in love and often imagines their future together. Esther and Harry Ginsberg are Smith’s neighbors, are the parents of a mentally deranged son whom they love despite his hatred toward them.
There are many themes and analogies throughout the novel.
The moonlight themed taster in the beginning of the novel and a verse in ending of the novel put forward a correlation between The Feast of Love and Midsummer Night’s Dream. The novel is set in various places and times; however one can see the link between the two.
Passing a mirror at the bottom of the stairs, he says it is glimmer less. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the beginning novel as Baxter describes himself as glimmer less on page four. One wonders what the author means when he uses this adjective. He does not clarify what this means, however at the end of the fiction he addresses it by writing, “All the voices have died out in my head. I've been emptied out. . . . My glimmerlessness has abated; it seems, at least for the moment."
The theme of love, I believe, is most apparent with Chloe and Oscar. A nontraditional young couple covered in piercings and tattoos with dreams of a traditional lifestyle together. Oscar, a former drug addict, imagines coming home to a house and Chloe imagines three kids in Oshkosh overalls. The two love each other and often show public displays of affection. Later in the novel Chloe becomes pregnant but is becomes a single mother when Oscar dies.
The Feast of Love is a romantic novel with excerpts of sex, drama and the overall pursuit of happiness.