Two traumatic events from the past dominate the thoughts of Alexander Cleave, a character who will be familiar from previous Banville novels.
First there are memories of a charged love affair with his best friend's mother – he was 15, she was 35; then there is the suicide, four decades later, of his own troubled daughter, Cass, in an Italian coastal resort.
As ever, the author's dense and wistful prose can wrong-foot the reader, but perhaps that is the point. For Banville the truth of the past is always in flux: "So often the past seems a puzzle from which the most vital pieces are missing."
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