Friday, August 19, 2011

Claire: The Blind Love of a Blind Hero, by a Blind Author

Claire: The Blind Love of a Blind Hero, by a Blind Author
by Leslie Burton Blades

This novel was first written in 1918. Lawrence, a blind artist, is shipwrecked off the coast of Chile. The only other survivor is a young woman named Claire, a wealthy socialite, and married. They help each other survive by hiking inland, where they come upon a remote mountain hut, inhabited by Philip, an intellectual recluse. Philip takes them in, but they are all three snowbound through the winter. With all three cooped up together, a love triangle is inevitable, but will Claire choose the blind man or the sighted man? Or will she choose her husband back home?

Although it is a love story with some elements of adventure, the author is most interested in the psychology of the main characters: in a primitive environment, will they resort to primitive behavior? What makes people fall in love? What is worth sacrificing for love? The characters spend most of the novel having long philosophical conversations with each other. Some readers might find it slow, but if you care about the characters, it's quite gripping. The language is rather old-fashioned (it was written in 1918 after all) but I didn't find it hard to read at all.

As the title indicates, the author himself was blind, and for this reason he creates a very realistic and sympathetic portrait of a blind man. Lawrence is capable and well-adjusted, passionate and handsome, but also painfully aware of how most of the world perceives him. In many ways, his character is far more nuanced than most of the blind characters that appear in romantic fiction, even now. Dev factor is high.

This book is terrific--highly recommended! You can buy used copies online, or download it for free here:

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