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Jerome K. Jerome
Weeds: A Story in Seven Chapters
Victorian Secrets
UK Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1-906469-40-5
Publication Date: October 31, 2012
101 pages, $16.00 / £ 10.00
Date Reviewed:November 24, 2012
Reviewed by: Mario Guslandi © 2012

Index: General Fiction

British writer Jerome K Jerome (1859-1927) is mainly remembered for his humorous best seller Three Men in A Boat (1889), but his extensive output (eight novels, fifteen collections of short stories, two autobiographical works, over thirty plays and countless journal articles) testifies to his eclectic nature as an author. Although certainly a fine humorist, he wrote serious, mainstream fiction as well, not to mention a bunch of weird, macabre stories (e.g. the horrific "The Dancing Partner").

Victorian Secrets, a small UK-based imprint devoted to unearth lost and forgotten literary gems from the past, is making once again available 'Weeds,' a novelette in seven chapters, out of print for more than a century, that Jerome fist published anonymously in 1892, due to the uneasy attitude of Arrowsmith Publishing House about the book's frank portrayal of adultery in those prudish times. Today we can only smile when considering the restrained and delicate way used by Jerome to describe a furtive touch of hands, a quick kiss, with only a timid hint of what subsequently may have happened between the two lovers. Times change, but a good piece of fiction maintains its quality throughout the years and this is exactly the case with 'Weeds.'

Dick, a man happily married to the pretty and sparkling Daisy, gets unexpectedly but desperately attracted by his wife's young cousin Jessie. The story describes, in a gentle but precise fashion, the inner torment of a man irresistibly falling for a delightful female creature and the consequences of his infidelity and moral breakdown.

In this apologue about the frailty of the human soul, the precariousness of marital bond and the power of sexual attraction (all issues by no means outdated or unfashionable even for our disenchanted culture) Jerome exhibits his great ability as an elegant and dispassionate storyteller, endowed with a steady, enticing prose and an insightful narrative style. The effectiveness of the restraint displayed in Jerome in 'Weeds' can serve as a great lesson for the many contemporary authors who seem unable to describe a love affair without employing explicit and crude sex scenes where eroticism is overcome by pornography.

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