The Albertine Motif. "The French Tutor" by Judith Armstrong. [review]
The protagonist of Judith Armstrong's first novel, Emily King, is beautiful, blonde and bilingual, having spent several early years in Paris. As an undergraduate, she suffers disillusionment when her hopes for a burgeoning romantic relationship prove to be illusory. Thereafter, she determines to adopt a strictly utilitarian approach to sexual relations, at one point adroitly juggling three complementarily useful boyfriends. A recurring minatory motif is Emily's favourite flower, a rose of French origin called the Albertine. The brevity of its orange-pink blooming is symbolic in this narrative of the transitional nature of relationships - a warning that it is folly to trust a lover too much or too quickly, lest one is betrayed.