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 Rhoda Levine’s lilting rhymes.
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.
About the Author
Rhoda Levine is the author of seven children’s books (two of which were illustrated by Edward Gorey) and is an accomplished director and choreographer. In addition to working for major opera houses in the United States and Europe, she has choreographed shows on and off Broadway, and in London’s West End. Among the world premieres she has directed are Der Kaiser von Atlantis, by Viktor Ullmann, and The Life and Times of Malcolm X and Wakonda’s Dream, both by Anthony Davis. In Cape Town she directed the South African premiere of Porgy and Bess in 1996, and she premiered the New York City Opera productions of Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, and Adamo’s Little Women.
Levine has taught acting and improvisation at the Yale School of Drama, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Northwestern University, and is currently on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music. She lives in New York, where she is the artistic director of the city’s only improvisational opera company, Play It by Ear.
Edward Gorey (1925–2000) was born in Chicago. He studied briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago, spent three years in the army testing poison gas, and attended Harvard College, where he majored in French literature and roomed with the poet Frank O’Hara. In 1953 Gorey published The Unstrung Harp, the first of his many extraordinary books, which include The Curious Sofa, The Haunted Tea-Cosy, and The Epiplectic Bicycle.
In addition to illustrating his own books, Edward Gorey provided drawings to countless books for both children and adults. Of these, New York Review Books has published The Haunted Looking Glass, a collection of Gothic tales that he selected and illustrated; The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells; Men and Gods, a retelling of ancient Greek myths by Rex Warner; in collaboration with Rhoda Levine, Three Ladies Beside the Sea and He Was There from the Day We Moved In; and The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, a collection of tales by Saki.