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Paperback review: The Art of Leaving, By Anna Stothard


Eva Elliott no sooner starts a relationship than she is wondering how to get out of it, and worries that there is something odd about her tendency "to think so often about endings". That's until she meets the dashing barrister Luke, who would seem to offer her lasting happiness. But when an old friend of his, the glamorous Grace, arrives on the scene, Eva feels threatened – and her feet begin to itch once more.

Anna Stothard's third book, after the much-praised Isabel and Rocco and The Pink Hotel, confirms her talent: the prose here can be transfixingly good. But the novel as a whole adds up to less than the sum of its parts: there are some rather obvious recurring metaphors – moths, eagles, aeroplanes – and, for a narrative so concerned with departures, it never really gets going.