The freshest and most poignant observer of human foibles and heroic hearts since Anita Brookner, Mary Wesley and Alice Thomas Ellis. When Lydia sees Simon late at night driving down Westbourne Grove her suspicions are aroused. Simon, a TV film director, lives in Hammersmith with his wife Flora and their three children, what need has he for the ...
The freshest and most poignant observer of human foibles and heroic hearts since Anita Brookner, Mary Wesley and Alice Thomas Ellis. When Lydia sees Simon late at night driving down Westbourne Grove her suspicions are aroused. Simon, a TV film director, lives in Hammersmith with his wife Flora and their three children, what need has he for the dubious attractions of Bayswater? The attraction is Gillian, an accountant, whom Simon met at a dinner party while Flora and the children were away in la douce France. Flora struggles with her re-found Christian faith, though Anglican now rather than Roman Catholic, as Simon falls into a hopelessly passionate and sexual affair that brings its own burden and guilt. The smart world of middle-class West London is depicted with savage wit and a needle-sharp intelligence that will remind readers of the novels of Muriel Spark.
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-05-15 "I haven't got any imagination, as you perfectly well know," says coolly blonde, 30ish accountant Gillian Selkirk to her married lover, Simon Beaufort. She may be the only one who doesn't in this deceptively calm and studiously ironic study of love sacred and profane. After Simon's wife, Flora, lapsed Catholic and mother of three, leaves their pleasant London home and takes the kids on holiday in France, TV director Simon, to his great surprise, falls in love with Gillian. The siren's song of "pure unadulterated sex" proves irresistible to agnostic Simon, though he is determined not to upset the applecart with Flora. Meanwhile, he sets about casting his next film, looking for an actress as brilliant as the "plain" English ones he knows, but with a more voluptuous body?a French or Italian, he thinks. As Simon is snared by the temptations of film and flesh, Flora, returned from France but still feeling his absence, is drawn to the local Anglican church. By the time Flora's friend Lydia catches Simon and Gillian together at a Bayswater brasserie, the end of their secret affair is almost an anticlimax. What prevails is Flora's austere yet human yearning for God's love, and her determination that the marital relationship must go on in a life she now considers "transitory." Exploring the tension between worldly and religious love as did Graham Greene in The Power and the Glory and André Gide in Strait Is the Gate, Booker Prize-nominee St. John does produce "a pure clear light" that springs from Flora's spiritual crisis. Her prose is swift and beautifully spare; the dialogue is sharp and witty; yet the tone of the narrative is chilly, like white winter light, more of a hedge against emotional suicide than a life-affirming renewal of love. In a curious way, Flora's need to shape her religious imagination to escape Simon's worldly imagination comes full circle to resemble sexy and candid Gillian, who has no imagination at all. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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