Third novel from the remarkable novelist whose first book, published when she was nearly fifty, was a critical triumph. She has been compared to Jean Rhys.
Since publishing her first, critically acclaimed novel English Correspondence, Janet Davey has become known for her ability to write brilliantly about characters driven to break free of the self-imposed limits and social conventions that hem them in. Candia McWilliam says of her work, ‘It secures one’s faith in the moral force of art’.
Davey’s third novel opens with a chance meeting between Abe and Richard in a taxi queue outside Paddington station. Abe is in his early twenties, a time when life is still fluid. Richard is married with two daughters. He and his wife, Vivienne, live in suburban security in Middlesex and attend an evangelical Christian church. Yet Richard’s meeting with Abe opens a door he thought he had closed for ever. With Vivienne and the children away on a skiing holiday, he invites Abe into his house – an impulsive action that will send ripples not only through his own life and that of his wife, but through the fragile existence of Abe’s younger sister Kirsty, who is herself unsure what is the best way to ‘settle down’.
Set on the peripheries of London – in Harrow, Crystal Palace and Kensal Rise – this remarkable novel places centre-stage the events and emotions of ordinary life that rarely find their way into fiction of this quality. Davey has an extraordinary talent for digging away the accidents of fate that define us to find the truth of who we are.
“A touching story of loneliness, sexual confusion and family ties”
David Ferrauto, Guardian
“Davey is a beautiful writer”
“She is able to create intimacy brilliantly...Davey's eye wanders appreciatively over physical objects, while sounds, colours and shapes are all beautifully observed.”
“Subtle and challenging...attempts something radical with the fictional form: it eludes novelistic norms in favour of something more like life”
“Davey is a deft observer of the inequalities of nature that exist within families”