Susie Boyt’s sixth novel is the story of the first year of a marriage.
Eve a nervous young actress from a powerful theatrical dynasty has found herself married to an international expert on anxiety called Jim. Could it work? Should it work?
Must the show always go on? This is a highly-strung comedy about love, fame, grief, showbusiness and the depths of the gutter press. Its witty and sincere tone – familiar to fans of Susie’s newspaper column – will delight and unnerve in equal measure.
I absolutely loved this book. Susie Boyt is definitely a writer at the top of her game and I could not put this book down once I’d started it over my October break in gorgeous Barcelona. It was the perfect book to take on holiday with me as it certainly gave me a great deal of food for thought as I wandered through the afternoon streets. This really is a book with something for everyone. It’s a comedy with death and grief at its heart; a story of a marriage where nothing is what it seems at first and that tightrope walker on the front cover is a fitting metaphor for the path the reader will take as we balance high above these characters’ lives – peering down at them and the convoluted lives they have ended up in, however well-controlled they think they might be.
It is only upon reading this, her sixth book, that I realised Susie Boyt’s illustrious past. A descendant of Freud who definitely lives up to her ancestor’s reputation in this novel as these characters’ inner lives are brought vividly to life as we immerse ourselves in their rapidly changing lives. Eve and Rebecca are definitely two dimensional characters and I feel like we get a real sense of their inner landscape as we plunge into their lives at very pertinent moments in this novel.
Grief is a great leveller, they say – but both of these characters in their own unique way refuse to be either defined or confined by their grief but instead their grief becomes a springboard for us finding out what is really important to them and the people they choose to surround themselves by.
This book has some absolutely killer lines – and that’s one of the things that made it such a perfect holiday read. The fact that Rebecca – the struggling thespian – is described as ‘as highly strung as a violin factory’ really tickled me and the way that Beach, the bereavement counsellor is described as a ‘deathspert’ was also a sharp and incisive comment on the modern attitude to death and the cavalcade of comfort on offer nowadays. A rent-a-declutter is known as The Prim Reaper, for example and I think that you should definitely have a sharp sense of humour to enjoy this novel and its unorthodox attitude towards loss and grief.
If you like your novels witty with a side order of black humour then I definitely recommend that you treat yourself to a copy. Maybe not one for the easily offended or recently bereaved, but certainly a novel that caught my attention and held it during a week in the autumn sunshine.
I ended up re reading sections to myself for its observational exactitude and despite the fact that I did not take to either Eve or Rebecca as personalities, I found myself caught up in their vividly described worlds and intrigued to see how far we’d be taken along with them on their journeys into their inner world.
Buy yourself a copy here
Here it is, looking gorgeous in my #OnTheShelfie
So much praise has been heaped upon this novel, by writers that I really respect too. Have a read and don’t just take their words at face value – make sure that you discover these characters for yourself!
I so loved this novel, its originality leaps off the page and it made me laugh out loud. Seldom has an exploration of raw, profound grief been so entertaining (Deborah Moggach)
This is delightful and as tender as an accidental bruise. Boyt’s witty, zingy, ping-pong dialogue dances with Astaire-like flair – underneath it lies the darker depths of grief that threaten to draw all her characters down into the murky waters of loss. I found myself praying that the cork floats of hope were still firmly attached (Tamsin Greig)
Susie Boyt has a unique perspective on modern life and close relationships, she is one of the funniest and most individual writers working today (Linda Grant)
Love & Fame is so rich and insightful, and the writing is beautiful. Reading it will help you survive your own personality. There’s a special sort of merriment in the book and such a feast of particularity (Andrew O’Hagan)
A book that manages to be both clever AND cheerful! Who knows if you’re allowed to fall in love with characters in books any more (or again) but Eve is the most loveable heroine who has walked across the stage of English fiction for a long while. Delivered with wit and brilliance leavened with a sense of tragedy just off stage (Alain De Botton)
[Boyt] is a ruthless skewerer of banalities and platitudes . . . Boyt tackles life’s knottier questions – is it better to fight, or to respect, one’s feelings? Can suffering be improving? – with feeling and verve (Stephanie Cross Daily Mail)
Blissfully immersive fiction . . . extremely funny, with a brilliant ear for zippy dialogue and an eagle eye for delusional egotistical fops (Jane Graham Big Issue)
Boyt’s affection for her characters warms every page . . . she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist (Leaf Arbuthnot Sunday Times)
Insightful . . . a sharp, universal must-read (Emerald Street)
Boyt’s affection for her characters warms every page . . . she writes with such precision and wisdom about the human heart under duress that the novel is hard to resist (Sunday Times)
Writer On The Shelf
Susie Boyt is the author of five other acclaimed novels and the much-loved memoir My Judy Garland Life which was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize, staged at the Nottingham Playhouse and serialised on BBC Radio 4.
She has written about art, life and fashion for the Financial Times for the past fourteen years and has recently edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories by Henry James. She is also a director at the Hampstead Theatre.
She lives in London with her family.
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