When David Pinner introduces his former teacher, the American artist Ruth Marks, to his friend and flatmate James Glover, he unwittingly sets in place a love triangle loaded with tension, guilt, and heartbreak. As David plays reluctant witness (and more) to James and Ruth’s escalating love affair, he must come to terms with his own blighted emotional life. Set in the London art scene awash with new money and intellectual pretension, in the sleek galleries and posh restaurants of a Britannia resurgent with cultural and economic power, Nick Laird’s insightful and drolly satirical novel vividly portrays three people whose world gradually fractures along the ineluctable fault lines of desire, truth, deceit, and jealousy.
With wit, compassion and acuity, Laird explores the very nature of contemporary romance – “The Death of Love in Modern Culture”, a as David puts it in one of his dyspeptic blog posts – among damaged souls whose hearts and heads never quite line up long enough for them to achieve real happiness.
“Written with real panache and frequent sparklings of brilliance…detail by detail, image by image, Laird evokes both David’s seedy world and Ruth’s rich and pampered bohemia with real expertise and imaginative flair.” The Guardian
“A fine, thoughtful piece of work that combines a compelling plot with pithy insights into the relationship between creativity and criticism; between art and those who make their livings skulking in its shadow.” The Times