Thursday, 1 November 2012
You know I'm always looking for well-written contemporary fiction and most of the writers I like are American woman. Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Strout, Curtis Sittenfeld, Ann Patchett, Barbara Kingsolver and Louise Erdrich to name but a few. So I was delighted to discover this little gem of a novel set firmly in and around London by the English writer Harriet Lane.
With more than a nod to Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, this is the story of literary journalist Frances who happens upon a road accident where a dying woman exchanges a few words with her. Frances can tell from the woman's 'cultured, expensive' voice that she is privileged and later discovers that she is the wife of a famous writer.
Frances then takes it upon herself to replace the dead wife and insert herself into the writer's life although - as with all unreliable narrators - you can never be quite sure of her motives and whether she is really as cold-hearted as her actions convey.
There are wonderful descriptions of London and the gossipy, insular world of a literary magazine. If you are looking for an autumnal read with a bit of a sting in the tale you may want to pick up a copy of Alys Always.