Tim Geary's third novel is a beautifully written and sensitively imagined portrait of a Canadian innocent trying to survive in contemporary London. Geary has also taken a big risk, creating a female protagonist who narrates her own story: an ambitious move that has tripped up many a talented male writer. But Geary succeeds brilliantly. His heroine, Portia Mills, is an utterly convincing female voice. A single 27-year-old still haunted by the death of her father 14 years previously, she comes over to England and gets embroiled, albeit willingly, in a kind of Chelsea set of semi-It girls and their well-heeled boyfriends. Jamie and Emma, Charlie, Camilla and Fee: Geary draws them deftly and with just the right amount of satire. Meanwhile Portia is adrift, involved in this world but not of it, and painfully conscious that she is simply getting old rather than getting on. When a relationship goes wrong, it all becomes too much for her and she begins to crack. Geary is not afraid to plunge the emotional depths as Portia falls apart, but even more importantly, he is not afraid to give us an ending full of realism, hope and reconciliation. -- Christopher Hart
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