Beth is funny, vivacious and seductive - and currently seeking peace in a meditation retreat to avoid dealing with the guilt and secrets of her past. A gripping and perceptive novel by one of our most highly acclaimed writers.
'' Somehow it seemed to him the only thing that would really solve the problem would be to return to the sea and find the old ring with their names and the wedding date engraved inside, in 22-carat gold, and put it on again and then the world would magically return to what it had been before. Many years before. This did not happen. '' Thomas and Mary have been married for thirty years. They have two children, a dog, a house in the suburbs. But after years of drifting apart, things - finally - come to a head. In this love story in reverse, Tim Parks recounts what happens when youthful devotion has long given way to dog walking, separate bed times, and tensions over who left the fridge door open. Lurching from comedy to tragedy, via dependence, cold re-examination, tenderness and betrayal, Thomas and Mary is a fiercely intimate chronicle of a marriage - capturing the offshoots of pain sent through an entire family, when the couple at its heart decide it''s all over.
Overweight and overwrought, Howard Cleaver, London's most successful journalist, abruptly abandons home, partner, mistresses and above all television, the instrument that brought him identity and power. It is the autumn of 2004 and Cleaver has recently enjoyed the celebrity attending his memorable interview with the President of the United States and suffered uncomfortable scrutiny following the publication of his elder son's novelised autobiography. He flies to Milan and heads deep into the South Tyrol, fetching up in the village of Luttach. His quest: to find a remote mountain hut, to get beyond the reach of email, and the mobile phone, and the interminable clamour of the public voice.
Weeks later, snowed in at five thousand feet, harangued by voices from the past and humiliated by his inability to understand the Tyrolese peasants he relies on for food and whisky, Cleaver discovers that there is nowhere so noisy and so dangerous as the solitary mind.
'For some time now, I have been plagued, perhaps blessed, by dreams of rivers and seas, dreams of water.' Just days after Albert James writes these lines to his son John, in London, he is dead. Abandoning a pretty girlfriend and the lab where he is completing his PhD, John flies to Delhi to join his mother in mourning.
A brilliant and controversial anthropologist, the nature of Albert James's research, and the circumstances of his death, are far from clear. On top of this, John must confront his mother's coolness, and the strangeness of the cremation ceremony that she has organised for his father. No sooner is the body consigned to the flames than a journalist arrives, determined to write a biography of the dead man. The widow will have nothing to do with the project, yet seems incapable of keeping away from the journalist.
In Tim Parks's masterly new novel, India, with its vast strangeness, the density and intensity of its street life, its indifference to all distinctions between the religious and the secular, is a constant source of distraction to these westerners in search of clarity and identity. To John, the enigma of his father's dreams of rivers and seas appears to be one with the greater mystery of the country.
In the dramatic landscape of the Italian Alps a group of English canoeists arrive for an 'introduction to white water.' Camping, eating and paddling together, six adults and nine adolescents seem set to enjoy what their leader insists on calling a 'community experience.' Their hosts are Clive, a taciturn figure, and Michela, his fragile girlfriend. Joining the group late are Vince, a banker trying to make sense of the flotsam of his existence, and his teenage daughter whom he feels moving inexorably away from him.
The dangerous river manages to bring out the group's qualities and failings in the most urgent fashion, provoking sudden conflicts and unexpected shifts of alliance. An ideal love affair breaks down and an apparently impossible one timidly buds. A banal disagreement turns violent. Meanwhile, the hottest summer on record is filling the glacier-fed rivers with a melt water so wild that it is surely unwise of the distracted instructors to launch their party into the last day's descent of the upper Aurina...
Morris Duckworth has a dark past. Having married and murdered his way into a wealthy Italian family he has long left aside the paperweight and the pillow to become a respected member of Veronese business life. But it''s not enough. Never satisfied with being anything short of the best, he comes up with a plan to put on the most exciting art exhibition of the decade, based on a subject close to his heart: killing. All the great slaughters of scripture and classical times will be on show, from Cain and Abel, to Brutus and Caesar. But as Morris meets stiff resistance from the director of Verona''s Castelvecchio museum, everything starts to unravel around him. His children are rebelling, his mistress is asking for more than he wants to give, his wife is increasingly attached to her ageing confessor, and worst of all it''s getting harder and harder to ignore the ghosts that swirl around him, and the skeletons rattling in every cupboard. The shame of it is that Morris Arthur Duckworth really did not want to have to kill again.