Several years ago, my mom went on an Elizabeth Cadell binge. She read all the ones she could find in the library system, and enjoyed them so much that she enlisted me to track them down online. I managed to find about thirty of them for her, mostly in hardcover, but I actually never read one myself until now.
The Past Tense of Love grabbed my attention out of all of them because it was a paperback (and therefore in the front row), a blue book amid white spines, and a duplicate being pulled for the sale pile anyway. My mom said it wasn’t one she particularly loved, but I’m okay with that; I’d rather not start with an author’s best lest nothing else quite measure up.
Kerry Cromer is little like her staid aunts and sister; she thrives in her London flat and demanding job as secretary to a grumpy businessman. Perhaps she has some of the wanderlust that caused her own mother to leave without a trace years ago. Kerry is all set to take a vacation with a man she is trying to decide if she loves when her boss sends her on a secretive but important errand to a remote village in France. There, a conceited artist, a beautiful woman, and an American family on a yacht may hold the keys to Kerry’s past and future.
The Past Tense of Love was a perfectly fine book. I wasn’t quite in love with either Kerry or Pierre, though their romance was fine enough. I also, like Kerry, wasn’t actually interested in knowing who her father was. The plot summary makes the book sound more suspenseful than it really is. There are humorous elements, and a wistful bit about a lovesick but forgetful old professor that I believe is mainly meant to show us Kerry’s compassionate side. It was definitely not a bad book, just not quite memorable either.
Elizabeth Cadell wrote almost sixty books in forty years; this is from about the middle of her career, but a time when she was cranking out two books a year. It makes sense, therefore, that it might not be one of her strongest entries. Now that I know what her books are generally like I can choose a more popular one for the next go-round.