Novelist and erotic memorist Monique Roffey rightly notes that few British male writers venture far into the bedroom these days, and when they do, ridicule swamps them. Somerville dared to breach this pitiable public schoolboys' taboo with this sweatily intense novel of a summer affair on a Greek island. Inevitably, it won the Bad Sex Award.
As Max and Tine's friendship flames into desire, their encounters sizzle and scorch. The author consciously overheats some passages, as thunderclouds from the past loom for both lovers.
They haul the memory of earlier shocks and wounds into their love-making – the core of a tale mixing clammy claustrophobia and soaring lyricism. Sniggering toffs may be appalled; grown-ups should take a different view.