Sexual fantasies, infidelities, imbroglios, and betrayals collide at a Chelsea dinner party hosted by art gallery owners James and Victoria Harting. By the author of Scarlet Angel.
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Sex is easily come by but love proves elusive for the married couples who are members of London's rich, arty set in this thoroughly likable romp from the British Palmer (Scarlet Angel, 1993). ``I don't want the one I've got. I want a different one.'' Tessa Lucas is talking about husbands. ``An upper-crust primitive'' with a will of iron, the beautiful, brainless, sexy Tessa is the engine driving Palmer's novel. She has already slept with half of London and concealed this fact from her jealous, hot-tempered husband, Alexander, who remains unhappily infatuated with her. Then she meets the equally willful, equally promiscuous painter Jack Carey. What could be more chic than being the wife of a famous artist? Her plan greatly alarms her brother James Hartigan. He and Victoria (the only happy couple here) own a gallery, and Jack is their difficult star. They are relying on his long-suffering wife, Ellen, to keep him from drinking and screwing long enough to produce some work for his forthcoming exhibition, and they view Tessa as an intolerable new distraction. Her affair with Jack is the center of the action; on the periphery, poorly integrated into the whole, is another troubled marriage. The unattractive art critic Ginevra Haye married semi-literate builder Kevin because the sex was so good; with Kevin away overseas, Ginevra writes a sexually explicit, wholly imaginary account of a liaison with James (whom she has loved since he deflowered her at Oxford). But writing about women who mope or cope (like Ellen) is not what Palmer does best. She excels at the comic treatment of clashing egos. Sometimes she ratchets up the comedy to the speed of farce: The disastrous Jack Carey private view begins with Tessa replacing a portrait of Ellen with a stunning nude...herself. Though it sometimes feels like a hurried first draft, Palmer's novel has enough attack to make for a consistently lively read. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
With an impeccable blend of empathy and mocking wit, Palmer (Scarlet Angel) delivers a novel of high-society slapstick that is nearly impossible to put down. The trouble-and the abundance of delightful wickedness-stems from the chic summer dinner party thrown by Victoria and James Harting, owners of that trendy London exhibition space known simply as "The Gallery." Chosen from Victoria's wide acquaintance with the bright and privileged social stratum she calls the "glitterarty," the guest list includes Jack Carey-The Gallery's star artist-and his capable, serene-seeming wife, Ellen. Also invited are narcissistic, compulsively adulterous Tessa, her jealous husband, Alexander, and Ginevra, Victoria's frumpy but brilliant university chum. During the evening, Jack initiates his affair with Tessa, while Ellen establishes a tentative friendship with awkward Ginevra. Brief, snappily written scenes trace the events of the next few months: As voracious Tessa becomes more of a challenge than Jack ever imagined, Ellen-chafing against the confines of her marriage-struggles to find a role more meaningful than being her egotistical husband's caretaker. Meanwhile, Ginevra-living in isolated squalor-nurses her unrequited love for James and slides slowly into vengeful, self-destructive madness. Perhaps the novel's piece de resistance is the wildly disastrous opening night of Jack's long-awaited art show-but that's only one of the many hilarious, acutely observed scenes that pepper this savvy and highly literate romp.
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Book Description 1994-01-06., 1994. Book Condition: New. Arrow Books Ltd. New edition. Paperback. Book: GOOD. 272pp. . Bookseller Inventory # NF-1743779