The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt - review by Michael Arditti

Michael Arditti

Dalliance in Lisbon

The Two Hotel Francforts


Bloomsbury 257pp £18.99

Portugal’s neutrality during the Second World War made it a refuge for exiles and expatriates from all over Europe. The influx of spies and refugees into Lisbon inspired Robert Wilson to use it as a backdrop for the thrillers A Small Death in Lisbon and The Company of Strangers. Now David Leavitt finds the city the perfect setting in which to explore domestic deceptions and marital disharmony. As Edward Freleng, one of his central characters, puts it, ‘Lisbon is the end of Europe … the fingertip of Europe. And everything that Europe is and means is pressed into that fingertip.’

The two Hotel Francforts offer limited sanctuary to the two American couples at the heart of the novel. Not only are the hotels’ names a constant reminder of the murderous threat from which the couples are fleeing, but the regular confusing of the establishments (founded by rival brothers) mirrors the

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RLF - March