Saturday, August 4, 2018

Love & Fame Hardcover – October 31, 2017 by Susie Boyt (Virago Press Ltd)

Having enjoyed, “The Small Hours,” by Susie Boyt, I was pleased to receive her latest novel for review. The storyline revolves around Eve Swift, daughter of much loved actor John Swift. Although she attempts to follow him into the theatre, her initially promising career collapses. Retreating to a job in a bookshop, Eve meets, and married Jim, who is an expert on anxiety. Soon, the two marry and head off on honeymoon in Chicago. Having read Boyt before, though, I suspected that things were not going to be without difficulties and, while away, Eve receives news which devastates her.

This book is about many different themes and it has much to offer as both a personal read and for a reading group. Not only does the story follow the first year of the marriage of Eve and Jim, with all its difficulties, but looks at Eve’s relationship with her mother, Jean. Eve and Jean’s stories also intersects with that of two sisters; a grief counsellor called Beatrice ‘Beach,’ and her younger sister, Rebecca Melville, a journalist. Having lost their mother while they were children, Beach does her best to care for her sister.

Much of this story revolves around things which are often unspoken. Eating disorders, grief, loneliness, failure, and, in these days of social media, the fear that John Swift will stop being a father, a husband, an actor, and become a story… This is a very human story, in which Boyt juggles the various storylines, and characters, well. It also has the hint of tragedy about it, which really does keep the theatrical feeling of John Swift – whose presence is felt throughout – at the very forefront of the novel.

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