Simon Baker

Bedtime Stories

A Partisan’s Daughter

By

Harvill Secker 212pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Chris’s opening line to Roza in this novel is hardly romantic – he propositions her in the street, wrongly believing her to be a prostitute – but somehow it leads to the relationship on which A Partisan’s Daughter is based. Roza accepts Chris’s mortified apology, and admits that at one time she did sell her body, charging £500 per encounter (a remarkable figure given the year in which this is set – of which more later). She does not, however, tell him that she was deliberately trying to be mistaken for a prostitute, merely for something to do. Chris drives her to her grotty house, where afterwards they meet every few days. During these encounters they sit a chaste distance apart, and Roza regales Chris with stories about her youth in Yugoslavia and her subsequent nocturnal life in a Soho clip-joint. The stories are luridly sexual (her father was her first lover) and filled with danger: she is a modern Scheherazade, and poor, suburban Chris is enthralled.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter