A deliciously creepy tale of clashing egos and unspoken desires, Valerie Martin's novel about aspiring actor Edward Day and his coterie of friends is irresistible.
We witness the hapless young Edward trying to impress the most popular girl in the class on the night his mother kills herself; we struggle with him in the ocean when he is almost drowned, only to be rescued by the self-satisfied Guy Margate. And we are punished along with him when he chooses not to stand by his pregnant girlfriend, Madeleine, and is made to suffer as Guy sweeps in and marries her instead. The frequency with which Guy pops up in Edward's life – and his predatory nature, asking for money after rescuing Edward, stealing starring roles – suggests something more than rivalry.
Martin successfully links her hero's flaws to his fortunes as an actor, and also asks the disturbing question: how much is he "acting" his own story for us now?