Flying to Chicago on her honeymoon, Eve Swift worries she’s made the wrong choice. Will the marriage work? Is Jim really the right husband for her? After all, he’s writing a book about the benefits of anxiety. The benefits! But it was anxiety that wrecked her budding acting career (‘It was all The Show Must Go Off’). And now look: worrying again.
At this stage it seems as if, in her sixth novel, Boyt has our culture of anxiety and its symbiotic twin, the self-help industry, in her satirical sights. But when news reaches Eve of the death of her father, the famous actor John Swift, the novel shifts gear. Eve and Jim return to London. The news goes public, as the Swift family is a theatrical dynasty.
In London, meanwhile, we meet sisters Beach (real name Beatrice) and Rebecca. They too have experienced grief, having lost their mother when they were young. Beach is the nurturing one while Rebecca, who works for a newspaper interviewing celebrities and looking for dirt, is less well adjusted.
Plots converge when Rebecca