Mortal Love Discussion

I wanted to write a final post about our October book selection, but I find that my words can not do it justice.  Mortal Love is a complicated book.  I think Elizabeth Hand captured something elusive and beautiful in her work and when I try to write about it, I am struck by how woefully inadequate I am.

Instead, I’d much rather discuss it with you in the comments section.  If you read Mortal Love as part of the Pre-Raphaelite Reading Project, or have read it before, please post a comment and join in.  If you comment via my Facebook page, I do use an app that will import your comments here, but you won’t be able to read replies unless you actually visit this page.

Previous Mortal Love posts:  Pre-Raphaelite Reading Project:  Mortal Love and The Green Girl.

8 thoughts on “Mortal Love Discussion”

  1. I liked the imagery too. It’s beautifully written.
    I did not like Learmont. Well, either Learmont. But, then, I do not think I’m supposed to :).
    As someone who spent a lot of time writing and dreaming as a teen (and being criticized for it) I LOVE that Val Comstock was depicted as writing this whole saga as a teen and then being vindicated at the end because it was ALL TRUE

  2. It was hard for me to follow at first because I was too intent and keeping everything straight. It’s kind of impossible until you are further in. You have to just let go and go with the story as it flows. Go with the flow, I guess.
    I did love this book and thanks for recommending it.

  3. One thing that stands out to me about Mortal Love is Hand’s use of imagery. Green, green, green everywhere. And she uses scents well. Larkin is described as having the scent of green apples. And, of course, that imagery of beauty is contrasted with other scents, such as the artist Jacobus Candell smelling so awful, even having the ‘unmistakable scent of dead mouse’.

  4. I absolutely love this book. One thing is unclear to me, however: do Breaghan, Learmont, and Red all play the same role vis-à-vis the “White Goddess” figure? In other words, are they, as Candell (or is it Swinburne?) says about Breaghan, midwives?

    There is a suggestion, too, that Learmont and Red are ageless. In the opening chapter, Learmont notes that if Hoffmann saw him now, he would see that he hadn’t aged in thirty years. So is Learmont, too, immortal? What about Red?

    Juda has blue fingers, as do Breaghan and Red. So are Breaghan and Red among these immortal ones too?

    One wonders.

  5. But Thomas Learmont does not appear to have the desire/hunger for contact with mortals that “Evienne Upstone” has.

    And Russell Learmont is his grandson, as Val is Radborne’s grandson. Are both Val and Russell Learmont the grandchildren of couplings between a mortal the immortal goddess?

    Also, in the first scene, Learmont burns his own hand on the candle, but Nick and Daniel are left wounded BY “Larkin.”

    My impression is that Thomas Learmont was not immortal, but his grandson Russell is, like Val. Perhaps he burns his own hand in the opening scene as a way to evoke being wounded by the goddess.

    But I still wonder about his scissors . . .

  6. I have just finished the book. I feel I need to read it again to understand it better but here are just a few thoughts. There’s an interview with the author on the web where she does say that Learmont is one of the immortals. My theory about the book is that the “immortals” come and go eg the “woman” who appears to the young Learmont and then to Hoffman and then in the asylum with Learmont, and as Larkin in the present day, all seem to be in some way the same person. I.E. she appears, lives and then is gone (usually in a fire). She then reappears in another incarnation (for want of a better word). I think the woman has a special status amongst the immortals – at the book’s end, Daniel addresses her as the Queen – perhaps she is the Queen of the Fairies. I wonder if the other immortals reappear in the same way i.e. Russell Learmont is a reappearance of Thomas Learmont. Also, it’s clear that when Larkin and Val Comstock see each other for the first time, there is a recognition which I think is a throwback to Evienne Upstone and Radborne Comstock i.e. perhaps Radborne is also an immortal and he is reappearing in the guise of his grandson. The meeting of Larkin and Val seems to be a special long awaited culmination of something that has long been planned and hoped for.  I’m also confused by the role of Daniel’s friend. If Larkin is so dangerous, why did he introduce him to her? At one point, it seems as though he and Juda have been working together, looking for someone, possibly the one who will become her King so maybe that’s why they introduced them, though why they would think Daniel was “the one” is a mystery since he has no previous connection (unlike Val who does turn out to be “the One”). Finally, I have to agree with one of the reviewers on Amazon – Juda Trent can only be portrayed by Tilda Swinton!


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