Tom Fleming

Bedtime Stories

The Alchemy of Desire

By

Picador 518pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The narrator of The Alchemy of Desire is a part-time novelist and subeditor who sets about deconstructing the twin engines of his life, sex and storytelling. He is deeply in love with his beautiful wife Fizz, but somewhere the passion has faded; problems begin whenever he sits down to write, and culminate in his discovery of a chest full of cryptic diaries in the couple’s ramshackle new home in the foothills of the Himalayas. Written by an American lady, Catherine, who, three-quarters of a century earlier, became the frustrated companion of the brilliant but sadly (for her) homosexual son of the Nawab of Jagdevpur, the diaries detail her adventurous, sorrowful life in full: ultimately, her uncontainable desire for one of the palace cooks caused her life to implode. Our narrator becomes obsessed with her story, to the exclusion of his wife, who leaves him; but as Catherine’s monumental desire capitulates to bathos, he comes to the understanding that ‘the greatest glue between two people’ is love, not sex.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,