Since the beginning of time, lovers and their passions have exhibited much the same sentiments as they always have. We have St Valentine, a 3rd century saint associated with the expression of love. He was martyred and buried in the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar Street, Dublin, and is commemorated on 14th February each year. Then in classical mythology, Cupid is known as the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. And the ancient Greeks called love ‘the madness of the gods’. One thing for sure, it’s a madness that has guaranteed the survival of the human race and ensured we are all alive and living on this earth centuries later.
Although love remains the same across the ages, what has altered beyond all recognition is how lovers meet and get together, thanks to the way society has moved on. One of the biggest changes that has occurred is in recent times is the proliferation of on-line dating apps. I wouldn’t even attempt to list them all, suffice to say you don’t need to leave the safe sanctuary of your home or brave the world outside your door to set up a date.
As part of its storyline, A House Full of Secrets charts the course of love for three couples, all of whom meet up in different ways.
Family patriarch Leo Blake fell madly in love with Gabrielle the minute he set eyes on her during an ordinary, everyday lunch in a hotel dining room. To him she was all light and fiery gold and he wanted to soak up everything about her, the way she laughed, and the way she moved. He told himself he was foolish to be having such ridiculous notions, but it was impossible for him to stop thoughts of her from filling his senses and he realised that for the first time in his life, he was in love. However this was 1968 in the west of Ireland and courting was very different then. In those days a lot of romances began in the dancehall, where the women and men lined up at opposite sides of the hall and the man was expected to make the first move. Walking across the floor to ask Gabrielle to dance was a very tall order for a shy, lonely bachelor like Leo, who was several years older than Gabrielle, had two left feet, and felt most comfortable at home in his library. I’m not sure if he would even have braved the world of on-line dating had it been available, but luckily for Leo, fate (or Cupid) intervened.
Leo’s son Alex, having left home at the age of twenty-five, and now living in New York for thirteen years, fell in love with Jenna as soon as he saw her in a conference room overlooking Manhattan. He’d been running late and was exhausted after a sleepless night, but the woman with the warm blue eyes and musical voice calmed him immediately. Drinking in the sight of her and the sound of her voice sent a wave of desire through him, but more than that, being around her caused an ease to settle deep in his soul. However, meeting someone in New York in 2008 was a world removed from the conventions and rituals Alex’s father Leo, had faced, and it wasn’t long before Alex and Jenna’s romance bore all the hallmarks of the madness of the gods.
After two disastrous relationships, Londoner Vikki wasn’t looking for love when she met Niall Blake at a party. From the outset, he made it clear he wasn’t in the market for a serious relationship, and that suited her perfectly. But over time, as their friendship developed, Vikki found herself more and more drawn to the relaxed Irish guy with the carefree attitude, sensing hidden depths and a hint of vulnerability about him, and she longed to take their relationship to the next level. But it seemed impossible, because even when Niall surprised her by inviting her home to county Mayo for a family reunion, and told her they’ll have to share a room, he insisted she was coming as his best mate, nothing more, and he promised faithfully to stick to his side of the bed – anything further would be a big mistake…
Three couples coming together under entirely different circumstances, the one thing in common being the pursuit of love and all its complex feelings. It’s doubtful if any of them would have met up if they’d been relying on a digital app, although in bringing people together, they too have their uses and place in today’s society.
Love is an integral part of all of our lives and the most powerful emotion we can feel, but there are many more expressions of love besides the romantic ideal. And who better than the ancient Greeks to declare there are eight different forms, from the erotic right through to the affectionate – there is surely something on that list to suit us all.
© 2018 Zoë Miller
This blog post first appeared on Alba’s Bookland Blog on St Valentine’s Day. I’d like to say a big thank you to Alba for hosting me on her wonderful blog, it was a pleasure to be featured.