WHITE CITY by Kevin Power (Scribner £14.99, 464 pp)
by Kevin Power (Scribner £14.99, 464 pp)
This novel about fathers and sons, greed, privilege and complicity, begins when Dubliner Ben’s banker dad is arrested for fraud.
Responding to the end of his parentally bank-rolled student lifestyle by hoovering illicit substances in punishing quantities, Ben initially despairs of achieving the wealth he desires.
But then opportunity knocks in the form of a Serbian-based get-rich-quick scheme cooked up by ‘The Lads’, an obnoxious posse from Ben’s prestigious old school. But in Europe, a shocking discovery forces him to confront his ostrich-like approach to reality.
Would-be writer Ben is never short of a flashy turn of phrase, but his precarious drug-fuelled highs and grizzly lows, at first blackly entertaining, feel increasingly relentless.
Slowly though, this dark caper evolves to ask searching moral questions. Power is intent on packing a punch, and I had some qualms about his use of tragic recent history. Regardless, with its 11th-hour twist, this ambitious, attention-grabbing novel seems ripe for cinematic adaptation.
by Marco Missiroli (W&N £14.99, 256 pp)
The fog that descends on Milan at the start of this Italian bestseller is a metaphor for the confusion that is about to enfold its protagonists.
Lecturer Carlo has recently been caught in a compromising situation with Sofia, one of his students — a ‘misunderstanding’ he insists, which is a story that his wife, estate agent Margherita, decides to go along with.
But Margherita is succumbing to temptation too, fantasising beneath the fingers of her physiotherapist, the hunky, troubled Andrea. Fast forward ten years to 2018, and things have moved on but then, out of the blue, Sofia begins to contact Carlo again.
Missiroli’s erotically charged novel is currently being made into a Netflix series, but this intimate and ultimately moving analysis of desire and the long-term legacy of betrayal deserves to be read — moving seamlessly between perspectives, we’re brought up close to the lives of its sympathetically imagined characters in a way that’s completely absorbing.
THE PERFORMANCE by Claire Thomas (W&N £14.99, 304 pp)
by Claire Thomas (W&N £14.99, 304 pp)
A woman is trapped up to her neck, unable to escape the glaring lights above her — in this era of climate emergency, the opening of Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days can’t help but seem ominously prophetic. And it acquires even greater resonance for three Melbourne women watching a performance of it as bushfires rage.
Usher Summer’s thoughts are with her girlfriend, who is heading into the teeth of danger to find her parents. But in the darkened auditorium there are other dramas playing out: Margot, a university professor, is struggling to process the decline of her husband into dementia, while wealthy philanthropist Ivy’s success disguises a tragic past.
Thomas’s innovative novel, which spans curtain up to lights down, makes excellent use of Beckett’s text, and if the second half — which is at times a trifle on the nose — can’t quite deliver on the promise of the first, this is nonetheless an original, at-a-sitting read.
To buy any book reviewed here, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193
Source: Read Full Article