Old Love Summary

Why is 'Old Love,' from The Collected Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer called 'a love story that transcends time?'

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Jeffrey Archer is well-known for his novels of intrigue, deceit and mystery. Old Love, one of his short stories from The Collected Short Stories, does not fit into this category and could even be described as predictable but, whilst reading it, the reader can't help but want to read on just to make sure that what is expected really does happen. The suspense is fitting and delights the reader as "they hated each other from the moment they met," sets the reader up for a love story that many recognize as characteristic of their own lives. 

Passion comes in many forms and it is almost preordained that, although opposites attract, so do those that are extremely passionate about their craft or profession. Hence, the unromantic characters of William and Philippa allow a very believable story to develop. After their marriage, the passion continues but on a completely different level as the fierce competition that fueled their complete dislike of each other, matures into mutual admiration ensuring that the reader does not become bored with the inevitability of it but relishes it. The fact that the names meant to discredit each other as they competed are the same names used as "pet" names after they fall in love, being "that silly woman" and "that arrogant man," cements the story.

The subtle characteristics of a love story are present in Old Love as Philippa is the Vicar's daughter. William is the hero who comforts her in her loss. He is also the one who runs out of gas! As Philippa remarks,

"It is no small mystery, William, how you could have managed a first-class honors degree in English when you can't even read a gas-gauge."

Therefore, to describe Old Love as a "love story that transcends time" is appropriate because the elements of a good love story are present, recognizable and add their own romanticism to the story. The shock at the end when William shoots himself, although horrific is, for him, as strange as it may seem, a romantic gesture. Readers across cultures and generations can recognize intense love like this. It will never be out of date and love is an old-fashioned concept in this fast, convenient world and hopefully, a story like this, can remind some to make time for it or even recognize it.

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