Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1970.
Norman is the clever one in a close-knit Jewish family in the East End of London. Infant prodigy, brilliant barrister, the apple of his parents’ eye… until, at forty-one, he becomes a drug addict, confined to his bedroom, at the mercy of his hallucinations and paranoia. For Norman, his committal to a mental hospital represents the ultimate act of betrayal. For Rabbi Zweck, Norman’s father, his son’s deterioration is a bitter reminder of his own guilt and failure. Only Bella, the unmarried sister, can reach across the abyss of pain to bring father and son the elusive peace they so desperately crave.
Bruno is nearly ninety. Obsessed with his past and a passion for spiders, he is the centre of a complex web of relationships involving his estranged son Miles; Danby, his hapless son-in-law; Danby’s mistress, Adelaide; and her twin cousins, the vengeful Will and the mischievous, sinister Nigel.
Eva Trout, Elizabeth Bowen’s last novel, epitomizes her bold exploration of the territory between the comedy of manners and cutting social commentary.
Orphaned at a young age, Eva has found a home of sorts in Worcestershire with her former schoolteacher, Iseult Arbles, and Iseult’s husband, Eric. From a safe distance in London, her legal guardian, Constantine, assumes that all’s well. But Eva’s flighty, romantic nature hasn’t entirely clicked with the Arbles household, and Eva is plotting to escape. When she sets out to hock her Jaguar and disappear without a trace, she unwittingly leaves a paper trail for her various custodians–and all kinds of trouble–to follow.
Marise Tomelty is a child-wife who dislikes sex and is terrified of open spaces. Ralph Shilling, a dealer in pesticides, lives in the flat above the Tomeltys’. One day, Marise’s traveling-salesman husband casually mentions that he recognizes Ralph as John Brown, the suspect who, for lack of evidence, was acquitted in an actrocious double murder. Nevertheless, Marise encourages Ralph’s attentions, intoxicated by a heady mix of passion and fear.
In this shrewdly-observed novel, A. L. Barker explores the tug between body and soul, life and death, truth and fantasy.