Some guys have all the luck. Take 55-year-old Daniel Fielding: a senior book editor with an established Toronto publishing firm, he has a loving and well-preserved wife, a dutiful teenaged daughter, a desirable home, and enough money to occasionally vacation abroad. Moreover, despite his admitted homeliness, women always seem to be throwing themselves at him. There was the "tall redhead who worked for the Star ... Jane somebody or other" and the "refreshing" twentysomething writer who once propositioned him in a Queen Street bar--not to mention his old friend Ann, who "had been inviting him back to her bed after their business lunches" for years. Fielding, however, "had never felt the need for casual romance" until a fateful trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair with the firm's aggressive and sexy junior editor, 32-year-old Denise Crowder.
Richard B. Wright's much-anticipated follow-up to his award-winning historical novel Clara Callan opens in the Devon car park where Fielding's prodigious luck takes a sudden downward turn. Suffice to say that Denise (whose own luck is decidedly against her) winds up dead and Fielding's "dirty little secret" is not only revealed to his wife and daughter but trumpeted throughout the British and Canadian press. The steamy title and suggestive cover illustration aside, there is surprisingly little sex in Adultery. Instead, Wright catalogues (with the same accumulation of detail that gives Clara Callan its quiet urgency) the various trials his middle-aged hero undergoes in the week following the outing of his illicit rendezvous. Since Wright's characters are for the most part polite, middle-class Canadians, Fielding is never forced to probe his own behaviour too deeply: "He realized that this was not a sterling moment in his life, but it was the way it had to be for now." And by week's end, his good luck appears to have returned. Despite its intriguing premise, the novel serves up adultery lite. For a less conventional and more passionate examination of forbidden lust, try Graham Greene's The End of the Affair or Ian McEwan's masterful Enduring Love. --Lisa Alward