About Love: Q&A With Margot Livesey

  • March 8, 2012

A Q&A about love with the author of six novels, including the recent A Flight of Gemma Hardy.

Margot Livesey grew up in a boys’ private school in the Scottish Highlands where her father taught, and her mother, Eva, was the school nurse. After taking a B.A. in English and philosophy at the University of York in England she spent most of her twenties working in shops and restaurants and learning to write. Her first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then Margot has published six novels: Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, Banishing Verona and The House on Fortune Street. Her seventh novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, was published by HarperCollins in January 2012 [our review of it is here] .

February Q&A About Love…

Look what we owe to Shakespeare…

If music be the fruit of love, play __________________________? (what would you most want to hear?)

Astrid Gilberto or Diana Krall

What is the greatest love prose you’ve ever read? Who wrote it? Please quote a few lines?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  Here is Mr. Rochester speaking to Jane after the discovery of his mad wife.  ” … you know nothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable.  Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear.  Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken it would be my treasure still….  you should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring tenderness…”

Is your imagination of love, your ability to write about it – greater than your experience?

I’d like to think my prose and my passions are equally matched but I am someone whose idea of a racy sex scene is two people sharing a sofa.

Have you ever fallen for a character? Who?

Yes, Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

How does he or she compare to the real love of your life?

Cromwell is stoic, somewhat taciturn, a man for all seasons.  I am happy to say that I share my life with someone who, while very enterprising and accomplished, enjoys conversation.

What are the words that you can’t imagine ever being associated with love?


With a nod to Yeats – If “love comes in at the eye…”  how does it go out? (Please imagine the rest of this sentence.)

I’m afraid this is beyond me.

Does love have its own language?

Not love per se, but each couple, or ménage a trois – let’s be flexible – probably have their own vocabulary.


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