Culture Conquors All in The Constant Image

Young, well-heeled American divorcee Harriet Piers accepts the winter loan of a Milan apartment while she decides what to do with the rest of her life.

Harriet studies Italian and mingles with the Milanese.  She sees their flirtations and affairs in no way affect the family structure that dominates Italian society.

Harriet tries to take a Milanese view of Carlo Dalverio’s attentions, but before long the pair find themselves head-over-heels in love. Their affair threatens Carlo’s relationship with his wife and family as none of his previous affairs have.

Within a few weeks, Harriet and Carlo have to decide: does love conquer all or is it just one factor among many?

Marcia Davenport makes Harriet a sympathetic, almost heroic, character. You’ll like her, root for her, want her happy for more than one winter.

Although the relationship between Harriet and Carlo is based on sex,  Davenport focuses on what happens outside the bedroom. Her characters are intelligent and sensitive enough to realize that they cannot live apart from society.  Carlo could divorce his wife, but he couldn’t divorce his family or his heritage.

In the last analysis, the one constant in The Constant Image is not the loved one, but the loved one’s culture.

The Constant Image
By Marcia Davenport
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960
253 pages
1960 #6
My grade: B+
© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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