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review 2014-09-23 18:55
Virago Modern Classics Marathon #1: My FIRST Virago. Le Sigh.
All Passion Spent - Vita Sackville-West

I couldn't resist starting my Virago Modern Classics marathon before I finished Inkdeath---sorry Cornelia Funke. I've accumulated quite a few VMCs, so I figured it was time for a marathon. Ah...my first Virago. How perfect it be this...
This is a novel of independence, femininity, self-satisfaction, {in the best of ways} what living really means, but also of masks and facades and when to tear them off. Lady Slane is a woman after years of being in the public eye and basically babied and severely underestimated by her selfish children, whom are all almost as old as her, mind you, peels away her suit of gentle obedience and boldly faces the world, wanting to live freely and finally make herself happy. She decides, after all this time, to let herself have what she wants and live a life of peace and quiet, rather than letting it be chosen for her. Better late than never, I'd say. She is very admirable in this way, and I'd like to think that there's a lot of her in all of us, some of us more afraid to jump into the ocean of life like Lady Slane. Even if you knew you didn't have much time left, but you had the means to live out even your simplest dreams {mine being retiring in a cottage with lots of gardens and lands and a dapple grey to ride everyday--I suppose that's why I related to this story} would you do it? I should hope that we would. Because even men, when they're trapped in a conformist or unhappy lifestyle have this yearning---of course in Lady Slanes period, it was much more difficult and questioned by her peers for a woman to claim independence, especially on their own. Sure, it may be easier now--and while I believe in gender equality; who's to say much has changed? A woman who ants to become independent is still questioned, perhaps for different reasons.
Even at the beginning of the novel, I could tell Slane's children were fake--through their characters I could practically see the dollar signs in their eyes. I won't even mention when they sorted through her late husbands jewels, as you can imagine how that went. It's sad to think about what age and circumstance can do to you: we recount a memory of Henry, Slane and their children rollicking through the house, then as their father became more succuessful, they had become selfish and uncaring, leaving their father to wonder if he even cared for them. It seems that the children's have been passed down their fathers ruthlessness and coldness, never expressing genuine feeling and only doing things for their own gain. Lady Slane is the complete opposite, stuck in the middle of money hungry monkeys and used for their benefit.
At the final pages, I felt a pang of regret for Lady Slane, a woman who had to give up her dreams because other people stifled them and she had no other options. I wanted to will her to carry on and paint at least one landscape before she left us, but she left in peace and had people around her that truly cared for her as never before. The ending really affected me, showing the differences between human hearts, particularly those of Lady Slanes daughter Carrie and Lady Slanes closest friends, her landlord and carpenter. I adored almost all the characters and enjoyed this novel thoroughly. It is a thoughtful novel full of real people and not so honest people and lots of "what ifs". This is a Virago you will not want to pass up. Perfect reading with a cup of chamomille on a sunny fall day.

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