…She was not ready to go home and start imitating someone she used to be…
All these suspects on holiday together sharing a villa, a pool, and the rambling grounds of the estate surrounding them are not who they appear to be. The posing of every faker on the premises is not so much remarkable as it is expected. It is the way life goes. Rarely is there authentic intimacy in this type of gathering, but rather infidelities of the most obscene kind. Levy is adept at making it all seem and feel normal. And the threat and portent of doom hovers around the intimates similar to a dark and pregnant cloud.
The story progresses and this doom feels imminent. Trouble is coming for somebody and the victims perhaps will number more than a few. The cast of characters involve two vacationing couples, a daughter, caretaker, restauranteur, neighbor, and an adrift and traveling young girl who generally prefers her public nudity to convention. This somewhat likable woman named Kitty Finch is obviously unstable and provides the impetus for the impending disaster. The focus centers on the accomplished poet Joe, his historical infidelities, and the starving and disturbed young nudist invited to share a room in their villa. Nobody, including the reader, knows why Joe’s partner Isabel invited her to stay except for her facilitating another adultery she has become accustomed to enduring. Manipulation seems to be at the heart of every action. By book’e end I am no nearer a resolution to this seeming madness than when I was at the opening scene as passenger in a car bent on crashing. But end it does.
Secrets, yes. And teeming with them. For me, a rather hollow work devoid of feeling. And though my first foray into her writing, I expected more from Deborah Levy. Especially with all the hype announcing it.