If I forget You, by TC Greene, is a love story that reads like a poem, yet it is not.
The beginning is a clever introduction to Henry set in 2012. Henry is a romantic figure and clearly a man of principles that are befitting of a successful poet.
It is also the introduction to Margot through the eyes of Henry. Margot, of course, has her own story and a personality that has suffered anxiety attacks from time to time.
The author reveals a profound understanding of women as shown in his eloquent use of language; for example Margot’s friend, “prattles on” and observations such as “at what age do women start speaking around each other?” Another example of Margot’s having no true intimacy between herself and girlfriend, Cricket, of so many years, is her not sharing about Henry, or about her husband Chad whom she suspects could be having an affair and not about her going back to her painting.
The first flashback in 1991 for both Henry and Margot is just enough to establish our interest and empathy for each individual.
Margot’s background is one of wealth and privilege and the traditions and trappings that go with education and social class. Margot is a young rebel and has someone to clean up after her escapades (paid by Daddy). However, she is seriously warned by her father not to disgrace herself once attending Bannister College where her father is a Board Member.
Henry has a much poorer background and wins acceptance through his sporting ability. He too is going to Bannister College and has a burning desire to write poetry.
The book is a collision of these two young people from two so very different American backgrounds. One has it all and the other so very little. The attraction that Margot has toward Henry is their very difference.
The story has a lyrical rhythm and phrases such as, “Henry likes the labour and has the focus of a poet and Ted teaches him about the grapes” and “for what seems like an eternity they just look at each other”, and “maternal blather” are but a few samples.
A poignant moment for me is when Margot receives Henry’s first letter where he has realised he will not see her for 53 days and has written the same number of things that he likes or loves about her. Margot’s reaction is whimsical but so appropriate.
There are no lurid sex scenes and the one act of violence is so understandable although it does have very long consequences.
The culmination of this moving story cannot be foreseen and with such poetic justice for Margot’s parents.
This is a story that most mature people should read. My one criticism is not about the story at all but directed to the publisher. The print size in the paperback edition is just way too small.
If I Forget You, by TC Greene, is available from Dymocks.
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