Publishers Weekly, 1992-05-25 English novelist Middleton's ( Vacant Places ) tart sexual comedy of manners is a brisk roundelay of deceptions, disclosures and evasions. Adrian Hillier, a cultured, depressive millionaire, is involved in a schizoid relationship with his housekeeper, ex-teacher Elsie Mead. When not making passionate love, they resume their formal roles as employer and employed. A charming, self-centered manipulator, Adrian also has designs on Alice Fowler, a woman he seduced 22 years ago in college. But Alice, now married to a manager of a supermarket (one of a chain in which Adrian is a major shareholder), resists his advances. Completing the cast are Stephen Youlgrave, a gallant septuagenarian poet who proposed marriage to Elsie; Adrian's French ex-wife; and Alice's snoopy teenage son, who sees through adult facades. A comic equation unfolds: Alice and Elsie, who are friends, conceal their romantic ties to Adrian from each other, and he too conceals his dual involvement. The ironic finale includes a twist that jolts Adrian back into life. Middleton's characters engage the reader with their cultivated chitchat and burning intensities. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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