(4 customer reviews)
Publication Date: June 28, 2021
Categories: Contemporary, RomanceISBN: 9781913551971
Philip is an English teacher in Worcester, nearing retirement. Feeling melancholy, as another academic year approaches, he looks back with sadness at his life because, although happy and successful, it has been unremarkable. He compares himself to the characters in the literature he has taught and wishes his life had been more exciting. In this mood, he encounters Jane – a lost love from 40 years ago who dropped him abruptly after they played Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in an outdoor production in Jersey in 1977. With Jane suddenly back in his life, Philip struggles with new temptations and powerful memories.
Forty years ago, Jane’s power over Philip reflected that of Lady Macbeth’s power over Macbeth, and in 2018 she seems to exert a similar influence. She persuades him to visit her in London, and Philip troubled though he is by being dishonest to his wife, can’t resist the temptation. Over lunch with Jane and her daughter, Annie, Jane drops the bombshell that Philip was Annie’s father. Jane, wielding her power, incites conflict between her husband and Philip who starts to believe he is Macbeth again. Relishing playing such a dramatic role, he is becoming the tragic hero from literature he has wanted to be, rather than the man who has lived an ordinary, unexceptional life. But will it all end in a terrible tragedy?
Stephan Le Marchand grew up in Jersey. He has a BA in English and Theatre Studies from The University of Warwick, and an MA in Shakespeare and Theatre from The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham. After graduating he spent two years at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and then two years as a professional actor. But the lure of teaching English at the King’s School, Worcester was irresistible and meant that he happily gave up the possibility of acquiring immense wealth and fame as an actor. He lives in Worcester.
Ben Walker (Guest Review) - 04 Jul, 2021
This is a book that needs to be gulped down. It captures the pain and exhilaration of first love, the power of memory and the dangers of temptation. Cleverly juxtaposing events set 40 years apart, the novel makes us join Philip, the protagonist, as he slips inevitably towards disaster because of his desire to repeat the past. Both amusing and tense, the book in the end is a very moving love story. Very enjoyable.
Jon DV (Guest Review) - 18 Jul, 2021
Can a reasonable family man be drawn into performing tragic acts of Shakespearean proportions? Can an existential crisis and a yearning to relive his first true love lead him to trade retirement for ruin?
The beauty of Le Marchand's writing lies in his effortless ability to bind the everyday with the theatrical, the pragmatic with the romantic, even the present with the past. No emotion is left untouched, and the reader will keenly feel the protagonist's angst, passion, ecstasy and despair.
His text is uncluttered yet rich, unpretentious yet sophisticated, and a joy to read. This is the perfect novel for a summer's evening, accompanied by something cool and alcoholic, and I defy anyone to resist devouring it in one go!
Sophie Jacques (Guest Review) - 22 Jun, 2021
Beautifully constructed, with a gripping plot. It has a lovable but flawed hero and a dangerous, dazzling heroine. I enjoyed it immensely.
NetGalley review (Guest Review) - 08 Oct, 2021
This novel is like a box of chocolates, or so Forrest Gump would have said. It is all about life and the unexpected things that can change us. It is profoundly moving and thought-provoking.
Stephan Le Marchand decorates his narrative with allusions to A Streetcar Named Desire, Twelfth Night, The Great Gatsby, Brief Encounter, and in particular Macbeth. Anyone who knows their literature will particularly enjoy this book but it has a compelling voice all its own and brought tears to my eyes.
Original review: https://www.netgalley.co.uk/book/229153/review/651022