Oh god this was awful. To illustrate why, let me quote a few excerpts:
her spectacles half-way down her nose as usual
she nervously pushed her spectacles into place
her eyes blazed at him behind the rims of her spectacles
owlish in her spectacles with the big round frames
“it’s a wonder he hasn’t arranged for her to have contact lenses”
her blue myopic eyes
All that was just in Chapter 1 . From the rest of the book:
“men don’t make passes at girls wearing glasses”
the catch of the county in tandem with a girl in glasses!
“I’m not going to fall down the stairs even if I do need glasses”
“spectacles and all”
“girls in specs get lots of sex”
she was so shortsighted and had to wear spectacles
“I’m myopic. I can see things at a distance only if I wear my specs”
“There’s an operation these days that can correct it, you know”
“Won’t my glasses detract from the effect?”
“Don’t all shortsighted people look as though they’re peering through a mist?”
he had such definition despite her hazy eyesight
her hazy eyes searched his face
“my silly eyes that can’t see for looking”
If the obsession with the heroine’s visual deficiencies wasn’t irksome enough, there was also:
- the pregnancy advice from the (teenage, unwed) maid: “You have to learn how to relax yourself and when the time comes the little mite will pop out like a nut from a shell, you mark me.”Yeah. There’s a reason they invented epidurals.
- the female doctor who is the least professional medical professional ever with no notion whatsoever of patient confidentiality or appropriate questions or basic social boundaries
- the constant use of one another’s names when characters speak to one another: “You like being alive too much, Dinah. You’ve always been a vibrant child.” “I’m no longer a child, Jason.”or “I think you have a very interesting face, Barry.” “You have a kind heart, Dinah.” This happens relentlessly throughout the novel.
Ultimately By Love Bewitched was a big disappointment. There’s no true guardian/ward theme, because he’s already knocked her up by the start of the book, so the entire thing is just about a sort of angry marriage of convenience. And really, married people having sex when she’s already pregnant anyway, where’s the interest or thrill in that? Winspear also makes extensive reference to the characters in The Honey is Bitter, which I recall being a far more enjoyable read.
Oh yes – one final irk. The portrait that we spend half the bloody reading about, that Barry is painting of Dinah? We never see the damn thing. We never even get to hear how it turned out.