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Love is Angela Carter's fifth novel and was first published in 1971. With surgical precision it charts the destructive emotional war between a young woman, her husband and his disruptive brother as they move through a labyrinth of betrayal, alienation and lost connections.

This revised edition has lost none of Angela Carter's haunting power to evoke the ebb of the 1960s, and includes an afterword which describes the progress of the survivors into the anguish of middle age.

122 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1971

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About the author

Angela Carter

199 books3,276 followers
Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.

She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in Nothing Sacred (1982) that she "learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised." She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972). She was there at the same time as Roland Barthes, who published his experiences in Empire of Signs (1970).

She then explored the United States, Asia, and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son.

As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in Shaking a Leg. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and The Magic Toyshop (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Wolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003).

At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives.

Her novel Nights at the Circus won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature.

Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer. Her obituary published in The Observer said, "She was the opposite of parochial. Nothing, for her, was outside the pale: she wanted to know about everything and everyone, and every place and every word. She relished life and language hugely, and reveled in the diverse."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 157 reviews
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,677 reviews5,251 followers
January 3, 2013
i thought Angela was handing me a flute full of bubbly champagne but it turned out to be a glass of spicy vinegar from a jar of pickled peppers & sausages. Angela, you vicious trickster. still, i found the taste to be surprisingly interesting. maybe not refreshing or pleasing to the taste buds... but interesting! i quickly finished the whole glass.

Love - a title steeped in so much sick irony, given the novel's cruel narrative and its wintry themes - is about an insane young lady, her beau, his demented brother, the apartment that all three share, and how lives just go on no matter what. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, Hey! it is set in late 60s London (i presume - i think the city is nameless) within that special milieu that exists on the outskirts of many colleges - an artsy, ambisexual, insular, young, messy milieu. it stars: a charmless young miss who comes from money & paints surreal landscapes over all of her walls and who is clearly both bonkers and toxic (our heroine!); a perfectly nice young man who is pleasing to the eye and who just wants to be happy and who has an arsenal of disarming smiles and who ties up and beats his girlfriend when she irritates him (our hero!); an animalistic brother who has decided to continually live in his school of hard knocks and who does eventually call for an ambulance after he finds a person who has tried to commit suicide - but not until he takes a few cool snaps (our villain?). the plot is pretty much the detailing of the strange, disturbing dance between the three. what is Love and what is it saying about "love"? honestly, nothing that i want to know. i don't believe in its perspective!

if you love Angela Carter as much as i do, you will find much to enjoy in this novel. her language is as brilliant as ever, full of evilly sardonic non sequitors and stylized dialogue and lots of surprising bits of characterization and of course imagery that is surreal, hyperreal, unreal, and grimily realistic. the writing is so offbeat that at first i thought all the characters and scenarios were meant to be postmodern constructs and a series of dream scenes. but nope, this was actually a "contemporary" novel dealing with actual characters and their relationships. shudder! i lived in a world like this for a few years and thank God it was nothing like Love's Inferno.

i suppose i should say what i think this novel is about so that this "review" is actually a review and not a book report. but i don't wanna. i don't believe in Carter's analysis of love and relationships. too bitter, cynical, demeaning, etc. well she did write this when she was 30 or so and i was probably prey to the same feelings at that age. wasn't i? i don't remember; i probably was taking too many drugs at the time, much like the characters in this book. but even if i don't agree with Carter's vision, her phenomenal and thoroughly idiosyncratic skill at constructing berserk narratives & her use of language that is full of nuance and spikiness & her ability to tell stories that read like diabolical fairy tales are all entirely in place. and so Love is quite enjoyable. a perverse kind of enjoyable, but hey i find my enjoyment in many different kinds of places.

look upon Angela Carter:


she's beautiful and she looks like she could kill you just because it may be an interesting thing to do. or not, as she may have some gardening to finish up that is even more interesting. ::sigh:: my kind of gal!

my 80s edition of Love contains an amusing afterward by the author. it's not really even an afterward. it is Angela Carter, many years later, showing a bit of affection towards her younger, cynical self, and imagining the eventual destinies of all the novel's surviving characters. the difference between the two Carters is profound. the author of Love wants to turn the world inside out and is high on her own cracked, brilliant malevolence. the author of the afterword is still cracked and brilliant but has replaced that malevolence with a kind of empathy, a kind of kindess, a clear-eyed and unsentimental wisdom. i want to grow up to be that kind of Angela Carter.

my first review of 2013! hopefully not all of my reviews this year will be as long-winded. but the author really deserves me going on a bit. Happy New Year!
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,565 reviews1,888 followers
April 15, 2019
Reader, I was tempted and I gave way to temptation. Early in the book Carter mentions a Spartan boy who carries a fox in his cloak and the fox eats his heart, by the end of the book I found that I was the Spartan boy, I saw the fox disappear into my chest and felt its beautiful teeth. Angela Carter is a diamond writer. Not one to wear round the neck or from the ear or on a big old crown but an industrial diamond, that grinds and scours and remakes you. At times she seems to be writing pure fable and then it feels to be instead super realistic precise in a historical context, one can taste the advent of the 1970s and the coming of the counter revolution.

A book calling itself Love pretty much gives away its central concern, and hush, it is a love triangle book, and in the nature of such stories we need to have a dynamic triangle in mind. Carter says (p.111) that her story is a re-write of Benjamin Constant's Adolphe, now as Donald Rumsfeld more or less said there are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns, this even applies to books if I had ever known there was such a book as Adolphe by a certain Benjamin Constant then I had forgotten it so utterly so that plainly it was an unknown unknown for me. A story that I did not even know existed. But of course this is a lie, everybody, I guess, knows that there are love triangles and that among people the triangle is more dynamic than it is in architecture.

I don't think reading Angela Carter, this is my third of hers, that she is talented, by which meaning I don't think you could learn to write as she does, and if you could you probably wouldn't like the training course. Her cerebral descent into emotion intoxicates me and when I emerge blinking into a hangover I remember that she told me that the Japanese believe that a fox can enter into a person's body in the gap between the finger and the finger nail. I know that she is right, because I can feel the fox now under my skin, there's probably no cure for that. If you see me sleeping on a shed roof or darting into a neighbouring back garden to eat dog food you'll know why - I have eaten too much of the fruit of the tree of Angela Carter.

This story was first published in 1971, at some stage in the 1980s a publisher saw that there were not enough people with Carterian foxes under their skins, or perhaps purely from Devilishness, decided to reissue the book and invited Carter, hopefully for some small consideration, to write an afterword to the book. Angela Carter being Angela Carter decided that the best way of discussing the novel would really be to write a bit more of it. I've changed a lot since 1969, and so has the world; I'm more benign, the world is far bleaker... (p.111) so then she writes a precis and an update on the characters and their lives as they enter middle age. It is insane and convincing (as I suppose the entire book is) and she closes with " Oh, the pain of it, thought Lee, thinking about his children, oh! the exquisite pain of unrequited love. The only authentic wound, the sweet curse they inflict on you, the revenge of heterosexuality." (p.118) That's Angela Carter, and you probably don't want to read her. I especially don't recommend her to readers in the USA because of the S word, I understand that certain readers there have some distaste for socialism as a positive ideal to which there is no humane alternative, and I recommend to everyone else, just to be on the safe side, not to read one Angela Carter book and particularly not three.

As for me, I'm off down the park to do what ever foxes do on sunny days.
Profile Image for nastya .
448 reviews287 followers
October 8, 2022
I've been reading Angela in the chronological order lately and this is the first one where Carter thinker and Carter stylist met. And she used it to write a contemporary story about three people hurting each other and themselves. And it's a mesmerizing thing to watch. Up to a point.

There's a lot of what feels to me 70s psychology and this is a psychological novel. Annabel is deeply depressed and imagines her husband Lee as a unicorn whose horn she amputated. At at one point Buzz, Lee's brother, is inspecting her vagina before the penetration for the teeth. You get the gist.

Angela Carter is always a pleasure to read ( for me) but this feels like an insubstantial entry in her oeuvre. But her sardonic afterword was highly satisfying.
Profile Image for Roberto.
Author 2 books103 followers
June 8, 2018
Loved it! It has that specific late-60s/early-70s oppressive mood of bohemianism gone dark and an oddness and detachment which felt almost hallucinogenic. It's all slightly pre-feminist, and (as Carter's afterword says) this doomed love triangle might've been shaped differently had it been written a couple of years later. But despite that, this was great, uncomfortable and kind of beautiful.
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews502 followers
April 18, 2010
There are so many books filled with unnecessary words, overwriting at its worst, allowing the reader to come and go mentally into the reading. Sometimes a reader is present. Sometimes a reader is not. Angela Carter writes only the words that are necessary, each sentence says exactly what it needs to, no more and no less. It's strangely beautiful, in a twisted sort of way. A reader doesn't exactly want to like it because what does it say about the reader to feel such excitement for these words? It hits too close to home, the reader has to examine themselves on a more personal level. That can be creepy. Too many people don't know themselves, or worse yet, know themselves based on what others know of them which they then adopt as their own. That's a slippery slope, one that requires no real responsibility from an individual, no accountability. Angela Carter writes about things like this and allows (actually requires) the reader to absorb it and relate to it.

Don't be fooled by the title, Love. The love that is described here is complex and disturbing. Annabel and Lee become married only because's Annabel's bourgeois parents insist upon it, and they live together with Lee's brother, Buzz. This is a strange living arrangement as the real relationship really seems to be between the brothers, a situation neither one really seems to grasp for what it really is. At times this is a bizarre love triangle, but there is such a scary undercurrent of suicide and pills and psychoses. Carter writes about it all like a fairy tale or a fable, and it works fantastically.

The first paragraph sets the mood and the tone of the entire story (all 120 pages of it):
One day, Annabel saw the sun and moon in the sky at the same time. The sight filled her with a terror which entirely consumed her and did not leave her until the night closed in catastrophe for she had no instinct for self-preservation if she was confronted by ambiguities.

Again, no unimportant words, each are placed just-so. I would love to have been witness to Carter sitting and writing anything. Did she edit a lot, or was she one of the lucky who knew exactly how to say what she wanted to say at the time she wanted to say it? Did she draft and outline? To read it it feels as though it was written effortlessly, and I love that. I love that without the suicide, pills, and psychosis of which she writes.
Profile Image for Jess.
382 reviews258 followers
October 15, 2019
Concise in structure, vast in scale, Love describes a doomed love triangle of dark bohemianism, inspired, perhaps, by Carter's destructive first marriage.

Love is classically stylish, anguished and violent. As with her earlier works, Carter is detached and unforgiving. She writes with economy and uncompromising exactitude. Her narrative is evocative and complex, the style is sensual. And yet, it’s involving: Carter’s depiction of psychosis is heartbreaking. Annabel suffers with a bizarre detachment from reality; she invests great trust in her warped view of people and place. Lee’s emotional abuse and neglect of Annabel, and her ensuing revenge, is as morbid as it is haunting.

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is Carter at her most brutal, her most ironic and her most cynical.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,076 reviews549 followers
October 6, 2015
Wow. I loved this highly evocative and condensed account of a doomed lover’s triangle, where two brothers and a mentally disturbed female arts student clash in gradually more violent spirals of love and hate. She eventually marries the one brother, but then feels attracted towards the other. Uh oh.

The writing is intense, as well as remarkably visual and sensual, with every word chosen for maximum impact. In a deliciously wry Afterword, Angela Carter even projects some of these damaged characters’ lives into middle age, with some very funny and unexpected results.

Yes, such a slim volume seems to make up for an entire library’s worth of resolutely grim and sad reading, but there is something haunting and implacable about Carter’s account of love’s vagaries.

The danger inherent in writing about despicable people such as this, not to mention the Freudian nightmare of their relationships, is that the reader can quickly become alienated from the characters. The brilliance of Carter, though, is that she allows us glimpses of indelible beauty and truth, hand in hand with all the horror and despair.

Profile Image for Elisa.
332 reviews35 followers
March 3, 2020
I just finished LOVE by Angela Carter and feel really disgusted to be honest. This really isn't a book you should read if you want to feel better. The sentence that resonated with me most was Carter's statement in the Afterword: "But good taste is not a significant attribute of this novel, anyway." There are so many violent and disturbing things going on in this book. The story revolves around the destructive relationship between Annabel, her husband Lee and his brother Buzz, the three of them living together in rural Britain in the 60s. I didn't like any of the characters and the first half of the book I didn't really understand what was happening and in the second I wished I didn't understand what was happening. However, Carter's use of language is beautiful and interesting. Due to the bad feeling the book left me with, I'm rating it with only ⭐⭐
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,265 followers
April 10, 2016
Bristol Gothic

The three protagonists of this 1969 novel "moved disinterestedly in the floating world centred loosely upon the art school, the university and the second-hand trade and made their impermanent homes in the sloping, terraced hillside where the Irish, the West Indians and the more adventurous of the students lived in old, decaying houses where rents were low."

We aren't expressly told the name of the city, although Angela Carter refers to it as "provincial" and it's generally believed to be Bristol (where Carter was living at the time).

Like the psychiatric hospital in which Annabel ("the mad girl") eventually finds herself, their flat is in a Gothic "house [that] was built in the Age of Reason but now it has become a Fool's Tower."

And so we have the set-up of a Gothic novel that charts the decline and fall of 60's English counterculture.

Annabel’s Axle

Annabel starts off as a middle class virgin, "a sparse, grotesquely elegant, attenuated girl"...whose "movements were spiky, angular, and graceful" (she actually sounds more proto-punk than hippy to me). She's determined not to be "common" (like her parents) and jealously guards her privacy. She rarely speaks or reveals anything about her psyche. For all her secretive introversion and lack of energy, she's still incredibly self-centred (she thinks of herself as the "helpless pivot of the entire universe as if sun, moon, stars and all the hosts of the sky span round upon herself, their volitionless axle.")

Liberty for Lee

When her parents discover that she's living with Lee, they force them to get married, even though they don't think his prospects are good (being a school teacher from a modest working class background).

Neither is particularly committed to marriage, especially Lee:

"Lee expressed a desire for freedom; in the last years of his adolescence, freedom was his grand passion and a principal condition of freedom, it seemed to him, was lack of possessions.

"He also remained cool and detached in his dealings with women for freedom from responsibilities was another prerequisite of this state. So his sentimentality found expression in the pursuit of a metaphysical concept of liberty."

Mythic Flicker Book

Annabel is little better:

"She saw, in everyday things, a world of mythic, fearful shapes of whose existence she was convinced although she never spoke of it to anyone; nor had she ever suspected that everyday, sensuous human practice might shape the real world. When she did discover that such a thing was possible, it proved the beginning of the end for her for how could she possess any notion of the ordinary?"

This mythic world is one of her own construction, not one imposed on her by culture, society or the outside world. It's a product of her own imagination, which can produce both dreams and nightmares:

"I don't know from one minute to the next what it is that exists for her, it's like a flicker book."

We learn little of the physicality of the relationship. It matters not to Annabel, who's more concerned with her own mythic world. Meanwhile, Lee indulges in a number of extramarital affairs in a quest for simple pleasures.


Carter alerts us in the first paragraph to the fact that a catastrophe is coming, and come it does.

As if the chemistry between Annabel and Lee isn't explosive enough, they share their flat with Lee's brother, Buzz, a photographer who reeks of "incense and chemicals."

Inevitably, there is a greater psychic rapport between Annabel and Buzz: "Your brother seems to take your wife's fantasies for granted, as if they were real."

Even then, the relationship is a shadowy diffuse one of surface and surface:

"Everything is subtly out of alignment. Shadows fall awry and light no longer issues from expected sources...

"They represented, now, a fissure of tiny cracks in her scrupulous imaginary edifice."


This is a world of diffused dreariness that has started to disintegrate. Nothing purports to hold it together:

"...though she did not long for him, she waited for his physical return with a certain irritation that it was delayed so long.

"On the other hand, he might return to her in some other shape. Sometimes she thought of him as a mean, black fox and sometimes as a metamorphic thing that could slip in and out of any form he chose..."

The disintegration of their shared world is reflected in Carter's mode of story-telling. She gives us a kaleidoscopic perspective on an emotional labyrinth:

"There is a condition of shared or, rather, mutually stimulated psychotic disorder known as 'folie a deux'...

"In time, the principal actors (the wife, the brothers, the mistress) assembled a coherent narrative from these images but each interpreted them differently and drew their own conclusions which were all quite dissimilar for each told himself the story as if he were the hero except for Lee who, by common choice, found himself the villain."

And so it is that Angela Carter creates a contemporary myth that reveals how the Gothic mansion of the sixties became a Fool's Tower. Things ain't what they're supposed to be. This ain't the Summer of Love! But it is the aftermath.

Profile Image for V Mignon.
177 reviews33 followers
June 6, 2016
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

-Edgar Allen Poe, Annabel Lee

Love probably sounds like a grotesque, debauched soap opera. It's okay. This means we are in Angela Carter territory.

Rather than write a novel or a short story, I often feel like Angela Carter's books are a series of ideas that are hidden by layers and layers of trigger-inducing plot elements. Sex. Violence. Incest. Love is no exception, as there is the insinuation that the relationship between Lee and Buzz, who are brothers, is on the hinge of sexual expression. I credit it all the more to Angela Carter as a writer to trick her readers with a delectable soap opera all while the crude mechanics behind such a performance are hidden discreetly. Love is perhaps the most exact reading of Edgar Allen Poe's "Annabel Lee" one can find.

You'll probably be disgusted. You'll probably hate the characters. You probably won't find any of them sympathetic. That's not the point. Angela Carter's work has made me go back and analyze what it is I like about the books I read. What it was, that endeared me so much to her writing, was the feeling that I was on the road to discovering something exemplary.

Some people will tell you that they love a book because it made them feel strong emotions. Some people become attached to the characters and the world. Some people are drawn in by the beauty of the language. I too was taken in by Carter's language. But I have an insatiable curiosity for the ideas that Carter covers in her novels. Reading her books is perhaps one of the few times I can say that I am feasting.

Love insinuates that Edgar Allen Poe's "Annabel Lee" was about the Garden of Eden, but where Adam hoped to find an Eve, he truly had a Lilith amidst the garden. This depends on how you read the character of Eve, whether she's your rib-variety maiden or the Milton Eve. It's also a Freudian story about how the ego cannot be overridden by the id, and the consequences should that happen.

The strongest element in that of Lee and Buzz's life is their mother. At a school celebration, the siblings and other students all wore letters of the school's motto: "DO RIGHT BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT." Lee was wearing the S. At this celebration, their mother ran over, "operatically stripping off her clothes and screaming to the morning: 'I am the whore of Babylon.'" She was sent away to a mental hospital while the boys were raised by their aunt. Reading over this portion again, there is the wonderful note that both the boys changed their names. Leon became Lee while Michael became Buzz.

This childhood memory is perhaps the strongest element in the novel. The God-like statement of DO RIGHT BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT that hounds Lee even into adulthood, the mother that states she's the whore of Babylon throwing herself in mud. They are paradoxical statements that define Lee's life. When I heard "whore of Babylon," I will be honest with you, my mind automatically jumped to my mythological home-girl Ishtar. A cult of sacred prostitution was devoted to her, as she was a goddess who stood for war, love, and sex. Rather than make this into a gender-fueled rant about patriarchies vs. matriarchies, this moment in the book is about what forces drive Lee: strong-willed, strangling super-ego and the completely out-there vulgarity of the id.

And this is how Lee lives his life. He studies philosophy and, while attending graduate school, corrects college student's papers. Meanwhile, he's having an affair with his professor's wife and lives a rather consequence-free existence. Alone with his brother. In a kingdom by the sea. Until Annabel magically enters his life. Lee is quick to place archetypes on her, as he pities his new-found Ophelia, his wayward Persephone.

This books contains my favorite first sentence in any given novel: "One day, Annabel saw the sun and moon in the sky at the same time." The sight fills her with dread, so she escapes to the park and finally, the apartment. An easy analysis of this would tell you that the sun and moon stand for Lee and Buzz, the two men in Annabel's life. But Annabel isn't controlled by men, as Lee hopelessly believes initially. She's moved by the wavering of her psyche and she too is under the same paradoxical rule as Lee. That of her id and super-ego, that of her trying desperately to connect the two to create some sort of ego for herself.

For a novel titled Love, there is no love. The only reason why it's titled Love is because that's the only reason the narrator in Annabel Lee gives for his relationship with such a woman. The characters mistake claiming for love in this book. Annabel's parents want Lee to marry her, but it doesn't change their relationship in any way. Lee tries to claim Annabel by placing archetypes on her to fit his image of her figure (which is destroyed when he realizes that she's wealthy and steals as much as he and Buzz do). Annabel claims Lee by forcing him to have her name tattooed on him. Their stealing is a way of claiming objects that don't belong to them. Their staying in an apartment is a way of claiming land off of an inimical world. Pictures are a way of claiming memories, as they don't last forever in our heads. There is so much in this novel about claiming.

So much claiming that it made me think about the word Love as it slowly lost all context to me. When you think about it, what does the word love stand for? What does it honestly mean? As far as I'm concerned, it's lumped with the word "faith." There is no true meaning. The word love only exists to label the feelings that we have inside ourselves when we feel the beginnings of affection. But once again, it's only a word used to claim a set of symptoms. It's our way of forcing structure on a world that is, in effect, structure-less.

This isn't a garden that carries the will of god. This is a garden owned by nature that Adam and Eve have forced the will of god onto in order to make meaning of their lives.

But do beware. Angela Carter is not for the faint of heart. When you go into one of her novels, it is akin to following that river in Apocalypse Now. Sure, it starts out all civil. And then you fall straight down, into the pit of anarchy.
Profile Image for Gemma Williams.
475 reviews6 followers
September 17, 2008
A beautiully written, intriguing but also quite horrible and disturbing book about a disturbed young women cught in a mutually destructive love triangle with two predatory brothers. Carter called it 'a sinister feat of male impersonation' in her afterword which updates us on the lives of the characters, and in which the rather nasty portrayal of the women is redressed. Not a comfortable read, but a complex and dazzling one. The sexualised violence in this book is not easy to read as Carter adresses misogyny head on.
Profile Image for Fiona.
130 reviews19 followers
December 20, 2019
What a book! Adjectives that come to mind are disturbing, sad, twisted, shocking,... A truly complex story of three people caught in a vicious, mutually destructive "love" triangle that was doomed from the moment they moved in together.

I found the complexity of the characters to be particularly enjoyable, as we got to read from all of their perspectives. It made for a very disturbing read, seeing the world out of the eyes of three people driven to insanity - an obsessive dance of give and take, destruct and reconstruct.

The writing itself was incredible. THIS is the definition of 'well written'! The book with its 122 pages is relatively short, yet Carter manages to capture the nature of the relationships in such an in-depth way. Every word felt like it was carefully chosen - like it was meant to be there - weaving together a mindfuck of a picture that delves into marriage, infidelity, obsession, insanity, depression and ultimately... destruction.
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,193 followers
September 23, 2018
3.5 stars

Honestly I love Angela Carter, but I will always prefer her short stories to her novels, as her prose works amazingly well for short narratives but can become confusing and exhausting to comprehend and process in longer forms.

“Love” as a novel is typical Carter, and whilst this one lacks the overt magical fabulism present in some of her other novels, it does, however, contain the antiheroes and heroines she is well known for. It’s a destructive trio of two brothers and a woman, and it steadily builds to meet an unchangeable climax.
Profile Image for Lyudmila  Marlier.
246 reviews27 followers
March 24, 2021
При всём уважении к изложению, история о героях не моего романа. В описании говорится о токсичных отношениях, но по факту это отношения психически не здоровых людей, и это большая разница, на мой вкус
Profile Image for Jayaprakash Satyamurthy.
Author 38 books465 followers
June 16, 2009
As morbid and gothic as they come, this early novel (her first, I think) is about two somewhat damaged brothers and the very unstable woman who falls into their orbit. It's a full-blown tragedy and melodrama given a sheen of exoticism by Carter's eye for the bizarre and instinct for making unlikely characters seem somehow believable. I give it full points because it is a gripping read at a concise length, wonderfully written, sometimes to excess, and, without the afterword added in the 80s, incredibly dark and haunting.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
March 28, 2013
I can't say I liked this book, but I have to give it two stars because Angela Carter's writing is so perfect, every word well chosen and well placed. The characters are unpleasant and the story mesmerising in its destructive horribleness, which made it brilliant and at the same time deeply unlikeable.
6 reviews2 followers
August 25, 2007
Don't be deluded by the title; this is Carter at her darkest and most cynical.
Profile Image for d..
94 reviews22 followers
February 4, 2017
odlican roman, privukao me je zbog kratkog i sveobuhvatnog naslova. a i slabo sam citala zenske autore (jos jedan razlog). procitala sam je u jednom dahu, bez prekida, to bi trebalo da govori dosta o zanimljivosti stila/spisateljicinoj moci pripovedanja. preporucila bih je onima koji vole da se uplicu u tudje zivote, posebno neobicne prvenstveno. tri glavna (fantasticna) aktera: Anabela, Baz i Li (skrajnute, autenticne licnosti) necu vise nista reci, koga zagolica neka sam otkriva vezu i problematiku.
Profile Image for Cody.
531 reviews192 followers
October 1, 2021
I needed a palate cleanser. Carter, witchy genius of Albion, washed my mouth out with a funfunfucked little tale of love’s illusion and its monstrous rescaling when nested within madness. It was nice to read Carter working in distortions of earthbound shadows instead of supernaturalism for a change.

Aaaaaaaaaand…the Epilogue, added a decade later, stands as testimony to ‘mellowing the fuck out with age.’ Someone light a Thai Stick—there’s blood on the door tonight, ducks.
Profile Image for Sandra.
934 reviews23 followers
December 3, 2022
'They had imagined too often and too much and so they had exhausted all their possibilities. When they embraced each other’s phantoms, each in his separate privacy has savoured the most refined of pleasures but, connoisseurs of unreality as they were, they could not bear the crude weight, the rank smell and the ripe taste of real flesh. It is always a dangerous experiment to act out a fantasy; they had undertaken the experiment rashly and had failed…'
127 reviews
December 23, 2020
I always leave Angela Carter’s books feeling conflicted. On the one hand, she’s not much interested in plotting; her novels, to this point (by which I mean 1971, when Love was published), have nearly always consisted of young bohemians meandering around gardens and dilapidated houses, occasionally stopping to have sex, leading up to some kind of melodramatic, climactic act by a doomed heroine or hero. Her characters are also largely indistinguishable from book to book: dirty, wild boy-men who walk the line between predator and lothario, and ghostly fairie-girls (Carter’s is a realm of extended adolescence), human outlines given only the thinnest of substance by their ambiguous sexuality and mental illness (they are also united through their shared abuse at the hands of careless boy-men). On the other hand, there are her words: the sentences that hang like swollen blood moons in their dark, syntax-skies; the paragraphs that drop like succubi upon me during dreary rambles through forgotten parks, turning grey anxiety dreams into resplendent nightmares from which I’m not sure I want to wake.

Love is no different. It is a naturalist tale that somehow, even though it’s barely more than a novella at 120ish pages, manages to meander, whose main cast—the tragic Annabel, her husband, Lee, and his brother, Buzz—are chiseled from the same block as the shades who populate Shadow Dance and Several Perceptions, which is to say that they’re straight out of a Poe story (or, perhaps, poem: “Annabel” and “Lee” providing an obvious bit of intertextuality that would be interesting to explore in a different life with more time and energy). There are also many of the same hallmarks: the gothic, Brontëesque setting; the neo-Victorian melodrama; the fusion of sex and violence, attachment and repulsion; an obsession with images of fecundity and rot; rooms littered with kitsch (figurines, broken dolls, dollar-store prints, taxidermied animals, and other assorted knickknacks).

And yet: there is something… more here. Annabel, in particular, feels like a more mature creation than any of her other creations, at once flatter and more complex, and there is a deeper empathy for all of the characters that offsets their extreme unpleasantness (an impression confirmed by the afterword Carter provides in my edition of the novel). Carter also explores more effectively the internal states of her characters, allowing them for perhaps the first time outside of The Magic Toyshop to emerge, though still as vectors, governed by vague, immutable laws, as comprehensible ones, products of their environmental crucibles, rather than as random manifestations of the capriciousness of the world’s Fates and Furies. Accordingly, Love offers a more coherent and satisfying narrative than Carter’s other novels (again, Toyshop excepted), even as it continues to refine all of the things that make her writing so powerful. Though it’s still flawed, it’s also beautiful, and it’s an essential read for anyone who enjoys gothic fiction or just loves gorgeous writing.

Profile Image for Peyton.
199 reviews31 followers
October 1, 2019
Love is a realism novel following a love triangle between a young woman named Annabel, her husband Lee, and Lee’s younger brother Buzz. We know from Poe that Annabel and Lee’s relationship isn’t going to end well. The three protagonists' experience of reality is open-ended and psychedelic (possibly the result of coming down hard after 1969?) and I was expecting the same of the storyline, but Love is a relatively believable series of events and we don’t really get to see inside the characters’ heads. Like much of Carter’s other writing, this book is high concept and has a strong beginning but falls slightly flat of what it promises. Carter’s later work is better.
Profile Image for Alison.
127 reviews24 followers
January 16, 2018
Wow. I read an interview with Eileen Myles and she said this is the book she re-reads the most. I see why now. It's short and dark but packed with some pretty delicious complex lyricism.
Profile Image for Andrew Galley.
59 reviews27 followers
February 7, 2020
I was bought this for my birthday back in November by a couple who are very aware of my diverse reading. Whilst they didn’t confirm who chose which of the books, the choices seemed indicative of their taste. He chose to get me a novel in the world of BioShock (our shared favourite game) and she, an avid feminist who is always happy to have someone wanting to read something by Angela Carter, opted to buy me The Bloody Chamber and Love. Prior to this I’d only ever read the short stories in Black Venus from Carter’s bibliography and thought they were relatively mediocre. I read the Bloody Chamber recently and again thought the stories were pretty mediocre, save for a few genuinely good ones. I was not aboard the “Carter is a genius” train that my friend was. Then I read Love… it’s been a long time since a book grabbed and shook me with such surprise as this.
It’s a very short book, with only 118 of the 128 pages of my paperback being the actual novel. Ignorantly reading the blurb gave me the indication that this story is about a love triangle, which in modern day is more of a tired trend than it is an interesting examination of human nature. Love is leagues ahead of the trend and, as far as I’m concerned, is now the high standard that other stories will struggle to match.

So what shook me so much? Oddly enough, I wasn’t gelling with the book at first. I was reading a few childhood exploits of some of the characters and thought to myself “yeah, this is fine setup and all, but there’s nothing here that I feel is necessary or particularly strong”. What stopped this from being a frustration is that unlike other authors, Carter didn’t overwrite these sections. That isn’t to say that the writing is of low quality in any way, just that she didn’t feel the need to show her control and understanding of the English language.

When the book started to get me was about 10 – 20 pages in when she is describing what starts as simply an average night between a couple. The way in which the female character, Annabel, is receptive to the advances spoke to me that she was clearly suffering from depression. A depressed woman in a domestic setting in a less than perfect relationship is again hardly new ground, but what Carter does is express her mental health by showing, not telling. You don’t get a box of medication referenced, or specific therapist visits… Carter doesn’t feel the need to outright tell you the character is depressed, she lets you piece it together and trusts you to do so.

Carter is also good at portraying questionable behaviour with reference to standard human acts. A little line like “he spread her legs apart forcing his knee” goes a long way to show an understanding of how people actually act with each other, and the way that the rest of the page described a clearly one-sided physical act to an uncommunicative party was, for me, exemplary of Carter’s understanding of the two different mental states a couple can experience in the same context.

As someone who thinks about depression on a daily basis, I admire when anyone can handle the mental illness that plagues me and many others with such nuance. Annabel’s actions, reactions and general behaviour convey her mental state with far better understanding than a lot of the depression memoirs I’ve read where the author seems far more desperate to convince you that they’re depressed rather than letting you even try to understand their experience.

I appreciate that last sentence could easily be taken apart from the rest of this writing, but understand that I am not saying that any of the authors are necessarily lying about their mental health, just that they’re far more preoccupied in writing a narrative than an experience.

Love triangles live and die by your investment in the relationship. The reason Twilight was such a popular punching bag among its critics that actually read the series was because the characters and drama was so contrived. How can you have any investment or intrigue with the characters when they are so devoid of anything beyond base characteristics?

Which brings me to the thing I admired about Carter’s book: none of these characters are good people, and though their actions are not always condonable, you understand why they are the way they are, and sides are not taken.

I’ve heard Carter’s name frequently in feminist circles and I was therefore worried that this was going to be a book that blindly forgave the women their discretions whilst portraying the men as nothing short of monstrous. She doesn’t, and Annabel is the perfect example. She’s depressed… but that doesn’t forgive her malicious intentions during the book. She might not be living an ideal life and her husband (we’ll come to him) might also not be someone who fully appreciates her circumstances, but she is certainly not an innocent party. Lesser stories would seek to dismiss Annabel’s bad actions as a consequence of her surroundings. Carter acknowledges that depression is not a trump card you can play to remove your accountability. It’s part of the character, but it’s not the defining characteristic.

Annabel is not the only morally questionable character in the book. Her husband, Lee, is also dubious in his behaviour. At first I thought he was going to be the typical bad husband and misogynist. Whilst these are certainly aspects of the character, there’s more depth there. Again I was expecting Carter to be a man-hating author in her representation, but what she instead observes is why a man can stray into infidelity. The mental health of a person, we often forget, affects the people around them and can your response to the frustrations or difficulties are telling of who you are as a person. Lee’s actions, and how they relate to his perception of Annabel’s mental state, was a shining moment: a pitch perfect examination as those who don’t suffer from a particular mental health condition can often struggle to understand a condition despite their efforts. Lee doesn’t get forgiven for his acts with the book much like Annabel.

Then there’s the third part of the love triangle which I will leave at telling you is far more than Lee’s brother. There’s a few decisions of how he fits into this equation that I would not dream of ruining for a reader. Needless to say that he is no Saint either and his interactions with both Annabel and Lee are believable.

I mentioned the length of the book and that was probably the clincher to put this in my favourites: it does not overstay its welcome. Whilst there is a good depth to the characters, it is not overdone. You don’t get pages and pages of character motivation, and that’s good. You get enough to convey the message and spark your mind as to how their behaviour fits in. A comprehensive approach would have killed the intrigue this book offers its characters.

A book with the simple title of Love was something I never expected to get so much satisfaction from. It amazes me that of all the books I decided I was going to get read this month, a book so short and low on my radar is likely to remain one of the books that stays with me a long time. If more of Carter’s books are like this, she’ll quickly join the ranks of my favourite fiction authors.
Profile Image for Eliza ೃ⁀➷.
141 reviews38 followers
March 23, 2021
This was a midsummer nights dreams on crack.

The lack of time frame made my head spin. The writing is very beautiful and some parts interested me, however most of it I had literally no idea what was going on who was who and it just felt very confusing and bland.

I’m still scarred from being forced to analyse the incest in the magic toy shop in a level. Safe to say I don’t think Carter is my cup of tea
Profile Image for lacey ♡✧ ✰.
107 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2022
There are some amazing lines in here but the actual story was super confusing. I hated all the characters so much; I've never hated characters more (the literal definition of unlikeable characters) This book was just a no for me- there was very little I liked about this book. This was Carter's fifth novel so hopefully, her older stuff is better because the writing was good but a bit pretentious.
Profile Image for Tracey.
218 reviews2 followers
September 23, 2022
4.5 ⭐️

Love is not always sweetness and light, it is often sour and dark. This little book doesn’t set out to show you the goodness that comes from love, it’s a stark reminder that love can entrap, it can hurt and destroy everyone involved.

An Afterword was added years later, and it’s funny and sad and just right. The political undertones so correct for that time in the UK.
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