Penguin £7.99 (318pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Idea of Love, By Louise Dean
Friday 09 October 2009
Louise Dean's third novel may come prettily wrapped in hearts and cupids, but a dark tale of tired marriages and shabby liaisons lies withi. Richard, sales director of a pharmaceutical company, makes his living selling psychotropic drugs to the developing world. Recolated from London to Provence, he and his French wife, Valerie, soon settle into an indolent life of boozy barbecues and late night soirees. Their new best friends, American expats, Rachel and Jeff, bring with them the promise of wife-swaps and illicit affairs. Both couples seem resigned to the fact that the Riviera is dull, and family life is "one of those things that is very bad for you but which is accepted as something nifty." Out of this group of malcontents, Richard is the most fully realised character. A serial philanderer, his frequent business trips abroad are covers for bouts of casual sex that always end up in the same "sticky mess".
But on one sales mission to Africa, he's brought up short. Witnessing the human cost of his company's mis-marketed anti-depressants on a young girl, he's shamed into giving up his job. On his return to France he discovers his wife and neighbour have become lovers.
Occasionally Dean gets carried away on the crest of her own inventive prose, but these slips are few and far between. The novel's insights into anomie and desire are amusing and bold. Through a haze of rose and coke, Dean's desperados come to learn that love costs, and that "nothing worth having came of guilt and pity; you had to be tough to love..." EH
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Indiana Jones sequel confirmed by Lucasfilm - but will Harrison Ford return to the franchise?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils