It's always a major literary event, a new novel by John Banville, even if the event usually seems to pass off quietly. In Shroud we meet Axel Vander, an academic with a dark secret, living out his final years on America's west coast. But his past catches up with him in the form of Cass Cleave, a woman on a mission. All of Banville's previous novels have been greeted enthusiastically by his ever-growing readership, and there can be no doubt that Shroud is one of the highlights of an autumn publishing season already full of new books by long established authors. 'His prose gives continuous sensuous delight,' wrote Martin Amis. Here is more delight. Who could ask for more from a novel?
Axel Vander, celebrated academic and man of culture, is spending his twilight years on the west coast of America. For decades he has lived with the knowledge of a tragedy of which he was both perpetrator and victim. Now, out of the blue, a letter arrives hinting at the secrets he has been hiding for fifty years.To find out just how much the writer knows about his past Vander arranges to meet her in Turin. But he is thrown into emotional turmoil by this encounter with Cass Cleave, a deeply troubled young woman desperate to discover a reason to continue living; and the meeting of the two leads inexorably towards disaster. Written in Banville's faultless, almost painfully beautiful prose, Shroud is a novel which is not afraid to ask deep questions, nor to answer them emphatically.