Set in the UK, Love’s Register tells the story of romantic love and climate change over four generations. Told by five members of the Lavender family, it begins in York, UK, in the middle of the free-love 60s, and ends with the night sea journey across the vastness of Oceania. The family voices, plus others, take us through generational conflicts in the 1920s, open relationships in the feminist 80s/90s and a contemporary late-life love affair. Led by a cast of varied, in-depth characters whose stories intersect surprisingly, with plenty of passion and humour, Love’s Register is a coming-of-age family saga and modern psychological novel that explores the way we live now.
Love’s Register is an edit of three previously published books – Purple, Blue, Violet – combined with the voices of a new generation of characters and an indigenous climate activist.
What people say about Love’s Register
“How are we to make sense of these times, to process where we are and what we are facing? In these times we most need our artists. To help us to feel, to help us to imagine. Giving thanks to Leslie Tate, writer and rebel, for their novel Love’s Register; to move us, lift us up, make sense and dream that another world is possible…” Dr. Gail Bradbrook, co-Founder Extinction Rebellion
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Robbie Cheadle –
My review of Purple
Purple is the first book in this family drama saga which is now packaged as one book called Love’s Register.
Matthew Lavender is a university student trying to find his place in the rapidly changing world of 1969. All the students are engaged in finding themselves through indulging in drugs, free sex, and a ‘free love’ image. Matthew finds himself hiding his sensitive soul under a lacquer of coolness and does everything he can to ensure he fits in with his fellow students.
Matthew is at loggerheads with his overbearing father and his mother is unable to keep the peace. He is looking for love and acceptance and embarks on a romance with a privileged girl, Sally. I must admit I wasn’t a Sally fan and I was rather glad to see this relationship end. Unfortunately, it knocks Matthews confidence and he rushes into another disastrous relationship, this time with a foreign girl who is visiting the UK on holiday. After this ill fated romance also ends badly, Matthew takes off for a commune and is indoctrinated into some rather extreme examples of 60s free love. It is gratifying that he is sufficiently his own man to see this situation for what it is and keep the other commune occupants at arms length.
On his return to university, he meet the lovely Miranda and this changes his life for the better. Miranda is the right woman for him and together they start walking a path towards maturity and self acceptance. With Miranda at his side, Matthew is also able to start rebuilding his relationship with his parents.
The book does dip into his mother’s past and rocky relationship with her abusive father. She escapes after both her older siblings have managed to get away from their home and embarks on a marriage with Matthew’s father. There is some detail around their relationship and how marriage pans out for Mary.
The writing in this book is beautiful and descriptive and the discussions unusual. I would call it literary fiction rather than a standard family saga.
Readers who enjoy a book with interesting characters and like to watch them grow and explore what life has to offer, will love this book.
My review of Blue
I started reading Blue within a short period of finishing the first book in this series, Purple. Blue is a complex book filled with emotion, and the difficulties of modern life with two working parents and children to be taken care of and raised in a stable environment. Written in the same beautifully flowing language that captured my imagination in Purple, I enjoyed this book even more than Purple as it is set in a more recent timeframe and the struggles, trials and tribulations of Vanessa and Richard Lavender are closer to my own experiences.
Vanessa is a modern woman who has grown up in a wealthy home, the child of a strong-minded mother and a workaholic but eccentric father. She meets Richard while studying to be a teacher at University, a job in which she aspires to make a difference in the lives of her students. Despite being portrayed as being languid and dreamy, Vanessa is actually very determined and passionate about causes. She is also a through-and-through feminist. Vanessa has a rather unlikeable friend, Ruth, who doesn’t like Richard and is a thorn in his side throughout this book. Vanessa is the one who feels stifled and bored in her marriage to Richard and wants to spice things up a bit by joining a group of free thinking swingers with a strong political bend. Vanessa has an artistic side and likes to paint.
Richard is rather complex character. He is decent and always tries to do the right thing and please Vanessa, but he is rather blinkered and often ends up annoying her with his overbearing and old fashioned ideas and comments. Richard goes into teaching because it is a solid and secure job, but his heart is not in teaching and he shows himself to be a bit irresponsible on the day he calls in sick due to a hangover. He is far less enthusiastic than Vanessa about joining the swingers group, but he is also the one that ends up meeting a woman whose company he enjoys and getting more out of the whole situation. He ends up doing some wilder and out-of-character things during his nighttime meetings with his ‘married’ friend.
I did find all of the strong feminist ideas and the concept of ‘free love’ as presented in this book rather strange and unappealing. I believe that I am quite conservative and have lived a sheltered life compared to the characters in this book and the mind that created them. It was a most interesting peep into a most alien and different way of life from my own.
I also found the attitude of both Vanessa and Richard to be a little immature and wanted to shake them both for being so cavalier and indifferent towards the life they had built together and their family. How often does it happen that people don’t appreciate what they have until they are in danger of losing it.
This is a book that will make you think even if you don’t prescribe to some of its ideas on love and marriage. For this reason, as much as the lovely writing, Blue is well worth reading.
Frank Parker –
Love’s Register brings together the three books of the Lavender family trilogy into a single volume.,. It is, therefore, a long read. In my opinion the first two books were disappointing, which is a shame because the third is well worth the wait.
The first third concerns a group of students at York university in the 1960s endlessly debating the various popular causes of the time. At times tedious this section, and the second, could have benefited from considerable editing. The university campus and its surroundings are well realised but the events that take place are largely mundane.
The same is true of the second tale which features another member of the family training to be a teacher in the 1980s. Again, the political concerns of the decade feature heavily alongside discussions about education policy. There is a visit to the seaside home of an aunt who turns out to be a much more interesting character than any of the younger generation. I would have welcomed learning much more about her.
It is in the third part that the book comes alive. The story of Beth, not a member of the Lavender clan until her second marriage, in her fifties, when she married John Lavender. Her story, mostly told in first person, is movingly told. From marriage in the 1970s to a charismatic religious leader who became controlling; through motherhood and growing doubts; to self realisation, divorce and the love of a good man; to an early death from cancer, this is a masterpiece, best read as a stand-alone novel rather than as part of the larger Lavender saga. It is difficult not to believe that Beth was a real person. Her personality is so lovingly portrayed by an obviously gifted author that, by the end, I thought I knew her as well as any of my closest friends and relatives.
I congratulate Lesley Tate on producing an epic saga covering the lives of three generations of a Northern family and the changes in British society over the period from the second world war to the present. At times erring towards pretentiousness in the first two parts, redeemed by a brilliant final part, it should be read by anyone who wants to know what life in England was like for the post-war generation and their off-spring