This early work by Booker Prize-winning author Barry Unsworth chronicles one of his literary obsessions--the corruption of innocence--and forms it into a compelling contemporary narrative set in the rambling, overgrown grounds of an English estate. When a good-looking gardener begins work at their estate, the two women of the household find ...
This early work by Booker Prize-winning author Barry Unsworth chronicles one of his literary obsessions--the corruption of innocence--and forms it into a compelling contemporary narrative set in the rambling, overgrown grounds of an English estate. When a good-looking gardener begins work at their estate, the two women of the household find themselves falling under the potent spell of his strength and seeming innocence.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-06-16 An early story of innocence corrupted on an English estate from the Booker Prize-winning author. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1996-04-08 A gallery of creepy misfits stalk the grounds of an English estate in Unsworth's bizarre, intermittently seductive tale of obsession, an early work from the Booker Prize-winning (Sacred Hunger) novelist available for the first time in the U.S. Two alternating narratorsæone cultured, the other vulgaræmake a nice contrast. Mild-mannered, highly articulate Simon Thebus, a narcissist and Peeping Tom whose fetishes include collecting pictures of women donning stockings, has spent two years digging a secret network of roofed trenches and tunnels on the estate where he lives, which belongs to his sister, Audrey Wilcox. Josh Murphy is the crude, cunning 20-year-old part-time gardener Audrey has hired. From his clandestine underground retreat, Simon spies on Audrey, a neurotic widow and art connoisseur; on Josh; and on Marion, the na?ve, orphaned teenage housekeeper whom Josh, a virgin, wants to seduce. Josh looks up to Mortimer Milligan, a co-worker at the fair where they operate stalls. Mortimer fancies himself a philosophical realist, which boils down to a raunchy sexual braggadocio and, on one occasion, to forcing Josh to drive a thorn through a live bird's brain. When Simon mischievously puts teeth in the mousse of one of Audrey's guests, she gives him one month to leave, setting in motion more spying and betrayals as he does everything in his power to stay. There are some deliciously wicked moments, but the plot goes nowhere. Part of the problem is that all the other oddball characters remain remote because they are seen through the eyes of either the perversely self-absorbed Simon or the clueless, foundering Josh. Still, Unsworth has elegantly constructed his modern, intimately scaled notes from underground. (June)
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