Summary of Old Love by Jeffrey Archer

Introduction:

The “Old Love” of Jeffrey Archer is a unique amorous tale between two brilliant students of English literature from Oxford. Archer makes an exploration of the theme of love from a completely unusual standpoint. The rendition is fiercely honest while he portrays a chronic sense of envy and rivalry between two sworn arch-rivals in the Oxford University: William Hatchard and Philippa Jameson. Initially, their aggressive competition unsettles their tutor Simon Jakes. In their constant intellectual debates, Philippa confronted the deep, confident voice of William with her high-heeled boldness. The mutual hatred was absolute. Their sharply perceptive and analytical mind refused to be submissive to each other. Indeed, this fierce sense of competition enabled them to outshine everyone else in the field. Given the background of 1930’s she, to him, was “that silly woman” and he “that arrogant man”. Yet strange is the way of destiny that an unusual love story should blossom between the bitterest of academic rivals!

Summary of Old Love:

The story follows two students, William Hatchard and Phillippa Jameson, of English literature from Oxford in the 1930s. They both fell in enmity with each other in their first sight. The mutual hatred began a fierce sense of competition between them which enabled them to outshine their contemporaries, but to remain neck-to-neck with each other. The mutual loathing gave way to the epithet “that silly woman” to Phillipa and “that arrogant man” to William.They equally loved each other but never showed up.They always used to fight against a topic. both excelled as toppers in their final degree exam. The Charles Oldham Shakespeare’s essay writing competition and they both won it.In between, Phillippa’s father death brought them closer and they fell in love. After the marriage, legend has it that they were never apart for more than a few hours. They had their honeymoon in Athens which ended up in a heated argument over the relative significance of Doric and Ionic architecture.They were both efficient equally in their fields of interests and when Phillippa was made a Dame, William was also Knighted.The most irritable habit of Philippa to William was her determination each morning to complete “The Times” crossword before he arrived at the breakfast table. One fine morning in June before their retirement, William, studying the clue, filled in the eight boxes left incomplete by Philippa. Philippa’s instantly retorted that there was no such word. To the delight of Philippa the word whymwham could not be found in the shorter Oxford Dictionary. William assured her that the word could be found in OED on his desk, which is made for scholars like him and left for college.Having closed the front door, as she entered the kitchen, Dame Philippa suddenly suffered her heart attack. Heart attack rates in women were more uncommon compared to males. She called out to William in vain. The news of her death was conveyed and the story ends with the suicidal note of Sir William (who shot himself with his pistol): “Forgive me, but I had to let her know”. There was the volume of the work of John Skelton held open in one of his hand with the word Whym Wham underlined neatly, his fingers stiff and cold around it.And as “the legend has it, they were never apart for more than a few hours” even in their deaths.
Characters in Old Love: 
William-
He was a young man of commanding vociferous voice in his argument. He was physically feeble and frail. though he was strong and bright in his studies and he was not at all good at games because for the first time in three years of his college life he played some tennis against a girl from St. Ann’s and but he fail to win a game. Even he really sank when he went swimming and actually did so when punting. In fact in his student life William Hatchard was jealous to dress himself gorgeously. Generally he combed his hair and the hairs fall out to fall of front head. But he was very interested towards to the girls. So he had climbed the walls of the women’s college to be with a variety of girls of varying stupidity but he never met Philippa’s room. Thought he was very hostile against Philippa, effect of sympathetic nature when he knew that Phillippa lost her father.
Philippa-
He was a young man of commanding vociferous voice in his argument. He was physically feeble and frail. though he was strong and bright in his studies and he was not at all good at games because for the first time in three years of his college life he played some tennis against a girl from St. Ann’s and but he fail to win a game. Even he really sank when he went swimming and actually did so when punting. In fact in his student life William Hatchard was jealous to dress himself gorgeously. Generally he combed his hair and the hairs fall out to fall of front head. But he was very interested towards to the girls. So he had climbed the walls of the women’s college to be with a variety of girls of varying stupidity but he never met Philippa’s room. Thought he was very hostile against Philippa, effect of sympathetic nature when he knew that Pillappa lost her father.

Also Read:  The Wanderers Summary and Analysis by Robert Browning

Theme of Old Love:

It is a unique amorous tale between two brilliant students of English literature from Oxford. Archer makes an exploration of the theme of love from a completely unusual standpoint. The rendition is fiercely honest while he portrays a chronic sense of envy and rivalry between two sworn arch-rivals in the Oxford University.

Solved Questions of Old Love:

1.Why is ‘old love’ called a story which transcends time?

It is appropriate because the elements of a good love story are present, recognizable and add their own romanticism to the story. The shock at the end when William shoots himself, although horrific is, for him, as strange as it may seem, a romantic gesture. Readers across cultures and generations can recognize intense love like this. It will never be out of date and love is an old-fashioned concept in this fast, convenient world and hopefully, a story like this, can remind some to make time for it or even recognize it.

2.Romour had it that from that moment on they were never apart for more than a few hours.

They were known as the ‘fighting Hatchards’. Everyone knew how they jointly won the Charles Oldham, how they were appointed to professional chairs on the same day,how they worked longer hours as if they had something to prove to each other. Only sad thing in their lives was that they had no children. But this only brought them more closer.Only one thing about Philippa annoyed William- she always completed The Times crossed before he arrived at the breakfast table. One particular morning a space was left for him to complete. He immediately filled it. Philippa was of the opinion that it was wrong. They had a bet that whoever was proved right would be called superior. And they started their day hoping the crossword would decide what Charles Oldham prize could not.The very day Philppa had a heart attack while William was away. She died immediately. William was informed about it.Later they found old William dead on the floor in a pool of blood,a small pistol by his side. There was a note along with the crossword’s answer saying-Forgive me, but I had to let her know.’
Also Read:  Inferential Summary and Analysis by E.A. Robinson