Forty-five years ago, Dan Jacobson’s novel The Evidence of Love chronicled the fallout caused by a wealthy South African socialite romancing a coloured boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The same narrative outline is replayed in All For Love, except that the setting is late nineteenth-century Vienna and the novel’s protagonists, Princess Louise of Belgium and Geza Mattachich, both really existed. Indeed they each wrote self-serving autobiographies, to which Jacobson extensively refers, as well as relying on Gerd Holler’s biography of Princess Louise. Such a curious blend of academic insight and romantic fiction might have caused another writer to career into a literary cul-de-sac, but, with his tenth novel, Jacobson pulls it off in style.
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