cover image A Green Equinox

A Green Equinox

Elizabeth Mavor. McNally Editions, $18 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-946022-68-4

This vibrant and resonant story of love and sickness from Mavor (1927–2013) was shortlisted for the Booker when it was first published in 1973. Hero Kinoull, a bookseller and admirer of cultural artifacts (“I have the Great Sickness... that love affair, sexual almost, with the lost past”) is content to be the mistress of Hugh Shafto, an upper-crust art historian of the rococo. Then, after Mavor implies Hero has caught typhoid during an outbreak in their English village of Beaudesert, Hero is in a car accident with Belle, Hugh’s activist wife. During their convalescence, Hero becomes smitten with Belle, and is later drawn into Belle’s campaign to save a community tree. As drama ratchets up around the typhoid lockdown, Hero takes refuge in a garden paradise created by Hugh’s formidable and worldly mother, Kate. “It’s really so very, very neurotic attaching yourself to one person after another. It isn’t adult of you, you know,” Belle says to Hero, after she falls under Kate’s spell. The plague sections of this unconventional story feel au courant, as does the timeless exploration of the many different ways to approach love. Mavor’s passionate story endures. (Sept.)