(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The Equations of Love is composed of two parts, or novellas. In the first novella, “Tuesday and Wednesday,” the action covers two days in the lives of a middle-aged couple, Mortimer and Myrtle Johnson, who live in Vancouver. She does part-time domestic work for Mr. Lemoyne; he does gardening jobs, currently for the Dunkerleys. Mrs. Dunkerley makes a fuss over him until her businessman husband returns, a change which deflates Mort. Stopping for a beer, Mort meets an old friend from the trenches of World War I. They go to the mortician’s, where the man works, and he gives Mort some flowers for Myrtle. Myrtle, however, is angry at Mort for drinking and starts an argument with him, from which she is diverted by the intrusion of a stray cat that she decides to keep.

They begin the next day in a pleasant mood. Myrtle manages not to be too disparaging about the handbag Mrs. Lemoyne has been given for her birthday, and Mort, in quest of a job at a nursery garden, chances to meet Eddie Hansen, a logger and an old friend. Eddie has been drinking and, as they walk along the dock, he falls into the water. Mort tries to rescue him but Eddie pulls him under and they both drown. When the police bring the news to Myrtle, she is furious because she assumes that Mort has met a disgraceful death as a drunk. Her cousin Victoria May (“Vicky”) Tritt arrives and, although she was in church when the disaster occurred, creates a story of how heroic Mort’s death was,...

(The entire section is 559 words.)

The Equations of Love Bibliography

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

McMullen, Lorrain, ed. The Ethel Wilson Symposium, 1982.

Pacey, Desmond. Ethel Wilson, 1967.