“Three Ladies Beside the Sea” by Rhoda Levine, with drawings by Edward Gorey June 25, 2010
Wickedly funny and delightfully sad, Three Ladies Beside the Sea is a tale of love found, love lost, and love never-ending. Edward Gorey’s off-kilter Edwardian maidens are the perfect accompaniment to opera librettist Rhoda Levine’s lilting text.
The place is remote:
Three houses beside the sea.
The Characters are Few:
Laughing Edith of Ecstasy,
Edith so happy and gay.
Smiling Catherine of Compromise,
She smiles her life away.
And then there is Alice of Hazard,
A dangerous life leads she.
The question in the plot is quite simple:
Why is Alice up in a tree?
The answer can be discovered:
Edith and Catherine do.
“First, three cheers—large noisy ones—two huzzahs and one hurrah for The New York Review Children’s Collection. They have been reissuing lost and neglected juvenile classics, wonders of children’s literature that a new generation of children will be dazzled by, charmed by, and God willing, read in their beautiful red cloth bindings as they encounter the pleasures of odd characters and freshly minted language which just might beat the joys of video games…they are astonishingly quiet and deliciously gentle, with just a dash of danger, something every child needs in their life to counteract the effects of a noisy, aggressive world….The latest of these books to be reissued is Three Ladies Beside the Sea by Rhoda Levine… Ms. Levine’s wry imagination and Mr. Gorey’s powerfully epicene drawings (figure that one out) constitute a whole new country for a child to visit or for a lucky grandfather to act as tour guide. …This is, of course, a must for the many Edward Gorey fans of all ages, and a chance to discover the fine poetry of Rhoda Levine. I read this one to my five year old grand-daughter because it is just long enough to be engaging and just short enough to be wiggle proof, and just wise enough to set a young imagination free as a bird.” —Sherman Yellen, The Huffington Post