Top critical review
An interesting diversion but difficult to recommend
on 3 July 2016
Although well-written, with clear, insightful observations on human behaviour, this book suffers from a lack of clear narrative structure.
There are too many characters, some of whom will disappear for 100 pages or more before being reintroduced, leading me to ask at times 'who?'
As the story loses shape later in the book, it feels like we are following the lead character, Michael Davenport, in a series of short-lived sexual relationships. By this time, he is around forty, but apparently irresistible to women just out of their teens.
It is not a tragedy, like Revolutionary Road. There are no sudden shocks or razor-sharp condemnatory remarks. But it does have interesting things to say about the esteem we have as a society for 'artists' and 'writers', and the inherent irony that at the very same time, despite this admiration, it is difficult to monetise talent in these directions.
Their life choices are driven by compromise, and in consideration of this, the book takes some interesting detours, discussing the value of therapy, the impact of wartime service, class. But I fear it won't stay in my memory very long, as the story itself petered to an end, rather like a conversation with someone you're not sure you like.