Lavender Blues: Three Shades of Love takes us deep into the lives of the Lavender family. The three books – ‘Purple’, ‘Blue’ and ‘Violet’ – explore free love, traditional courtship, open marriage and late-life romance.
Blue, the second part of the trilogy, tells the story of Richard and Vanessa Lavender, who join a 90s feminist collective sharing childcare, political activism and open relationships. Boosted by their ‘wider network’ they take secondary partners, throw parties and observe the dance of relationships amongst their friends. But finding a balance between power and restraint, and handling shared love, proves difficult.
As the pressures build, Vanessa and Richard develop what their cousin Matthew calls an egoism à deux. He’s become a professor, and his witty lectures on modern families point back to his role in Purple, the first book in the trilogy, and forward to Richard and Vanessa’s attempts to fix their marriage.
United by their differences, Vanessa and Richard find temporary relief in humorous group outings, crazy ‘nightwalks’ and a visit to The Hen House, a quirky feminist retreat. After one particularly ugly row, they seek guidance from Laetitia, an eccentric counsellor, learning from her the healing power of children’s games and silence.
Blue is a novel about passion, commitment and staying alive. Full of strongly-drawn characters and sharp-eyed insights into modern relationships, it takes the reader to the heart of an ‘open marriage’, giving a blow-by-blow account of the shift from youthful attraction to adult reality.
“In the end,” as Richard says, “we adapt, and that makes the difference.”