Lynne Reid Banks The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

With [Two Is Lonely] Lynne Reid Banks ends the trilogy which began in an L-shaped room in Fulham. Her heroine is thirty-six and tired, and her creator seems tired too. The illegitimate son conceived and born to Jane in that first volume is now eight and—apparently troubled by fatherlessness—given to nightly attacks of hysteria. His need for a father is made a somewhat unconsidered motive for his mother's capable scrutiny of the scene, and her relations with men in the past and present are really her subject. This is the 1970s version of the staunch little heroine's search for a mate, in which there can be no thrills without obstacles and love has still to be tested. Illegitimate children, one-night stands (provided they occasion anxiety) and a slightly franker look at the zones where sexual feelings dwell are allowed now, in moderation. Love is still love, though, and procreative to boot, so new measurements for sentiment must be devised.

Jane is being wooed by a handsome widower, an architect, who is successful and rich and too acceptable to be instantly accepted….

[In the end,] Jane can marry her architect with a clear conscience, satisfied, as any Jane Austen heroine might be, with the happy fusion of common sense with inclination and the certainty of having never loved like this before. An alarming postscript hints at the saga's continuation.

Sex is, sadly, no longer deliciously unmentioned as it used to be in those novels where wars or decency made necking in the home counties such a delight. A mighty orgasm and an adequate income can wipe clean even the most capricious of pasts.

"Mateless Days," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1974; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3759, March 22, 1974, p. 282.