Principle character and narrator Tony Webster is in his early sixties. The being British part doesn’t get in the way. We can relate. Tony is a mixed bag of deliberations and compulsions – he buys stuff to descale his tea kettle and, in the spirit of older men with little to lose, is eagerly willing to make a fool of himself over women.
Veronica Ford becomes the object of his obsession, which makes us shake our head with pity because she is such a hollow bitch. It is her mother who proves to be the most interesting female character (wish there had been more of her). Tony’s ex-wife Margaret is portrayed as all-knowing and a bit too precious. If they had ever taken that late-post-divorce romantic weekend together, I would have thrown the book down.
The first part of the book has a prep school feel to it, and the second part zips quickly into middle-age. Barnes via Tony presents endless observations and little theories about life as an aging idle dude. It is the reader’s task to separate the hoodoo from the chaff…for Tony is far from being a reliable narrator. Tony can be astute and pretty damn dense at the same time.
Interesting and detailed depiction of email as a role player in today’s relationships.
Literary grade A, no wasted words, fast and efficient. I read it in two sittings. Not sure how much of it will stick with me as memorable.