Charlie Marsden has to come to terms with a woman whom he cannot help but love unconditionally but who can never quite be his in this portrait of a vanishing generation
Who is Katya Lowell and what is the secret of her life? A beautiful, seemingly cool painter of unnerving images in 1970s London, she comes to the attention of Charlie Marsden, an aristocrat who works at an old merchant bank in the City. Why does this elegant, enigmatic woman choose to spend time with outsiders such as the former secret agent Harry Groves and the suburban multi-millionaire Jarvis Green? Private Views is a portrait gallery of smart society. The author’s pitch-perfect dialogue fills the reader’s ears with the voices of the stammeringly voluble dramatic critic Benedict Bligh, the glossy-magazine columnist Tamsin Fairfax, Charlie’s smart, bisexual auctioneer flatmate Marcus Steele, the gentleman cook Theo Plant and his thriller-writing brother Ferdy, and Charlie and his delicious sister Camilla. Like a threatened species, they prefer not to look at the cunning predators and their low-life sidekicks who are taking control of old England. This love story, at once superbly romantic and darkly erotic, guides our imagination towards savoring the ambiguous connection between life and art. Frederic Raphael’s new novel is both an original work of art and the portrait of a vanishing generation. It is as if The Story of O. had been crossed with The Portrait of a Lady.
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