978-0-7472-6817-8 / 9780747268178

My Lover's Lover





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About the book:

Maggie O'Farrell was heralded as a major new writer with her debut novel, After You'd Gone. And here she is with My Lover's Lover, demonstrating again her extraordinary talent. The coda to the novel's final part is Evelyn Waugh's "To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom". It's the choices and chances, the compromises and delusions, made in the search for love that preoccupy O'Farrell's central characters. The setting is 30-something London, New York, and rural China. Lily and Marcus meet at a gallery opening; almost the day after, they're sharing his chic loft, and soon after that, his bed. But if this sounds like chick-lit, any similarities end here. Narrated in four parts, O'Farrell moves adeptly from third to first person, from present to past to future.

Through Lily's account in the first section, a claustrophobic fear pulsates: she is haunted by Marcus's previous lover, Sinead, who seems to be everywhere--"The flat seems sticky with Sinead's fingerprints. [Lily] doesn't know what to do." But according to Marcus, Sinead "is no longer with us". On every page, O'Farrell's transcription of the body as register of the emotions, of fear and desire, is breathtaking. Language dissects and insinuates; revelations unfurl and double back. Sinead's incredulity at Marcus's being "not exactly faithful" and Marcus's old friend Aidan's consternation at his own secret longings are described with such tactility, such spare suggestiveness that these lovers' tales take on a brooding, yet haphazard quality. O'Farrell is an insightful and passionate chronicler of human emotions. It's compulsive and thrilling stuff. --Ruth Petrie

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