Elizabeth Smither, ‘Loving Sylvie’ / Waterlilies, by Claude Monet (1840-1926), 1903. Marmottan Museum, Paris. (Photo by Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images) Broadcasting legend Elizabeth Alley reviews Loving Sylvie , the gorgeous, ephemeral new novel by Elizabeth Smither. A bride is rowed across a grey-green lake to her wedding. She rehearses her new name, “Sylvie Grace Taverner,” as the waters lap the boat. There’s a black swan and a flotilla of ducks. The oarsman is her grandfather Kit, and waiting on the dock is her grandmother Isobel, clutching the bridal bouquet in her hands “like a spring cabbage”. What’s not to like about that as a beginning? While for a brief moment you might expect it’s the stuff from which gothic mysteries are made, there are no bodies lurking in the waters, nor rogues in the undergrowth. Instead, the only tangled web is the one Smither weaves through the inner lives of three generations of women, drawing from the depths of her startlingly vivid imagination. The chaps, though interesting in themselves, are definitely lesser characters. To describe this as a ‘literary’ novel is not to suggest it is out of reach for any reader. Far from it. But it’s a book […]