Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn - review by Larry Ryan

Larry Ryan

Double Trouble

Curtain Call


Jonathan Cape 327pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Times are good for Stephen Wyley. He’s a society portraitist in 1930s London, regarded by some as ‘the British Sargent’, with a marriage, children and an inheritance to fall back on. ‘The Life of Wyley’ is a friend’s arch description. Stephen recognises his membership of a fortunate interwar generation: born late enough to avoid the Great War and subsequently able to take up a place at Oxford left vacant by those called up. ‘Wyley had been lucky in most things, and had learned not to mind being resented for it.’ 

Yet by 1936 there is a creeping malaise. Stephen drifts into an affair with Nina Land, an actress riding high with a West End play, The Second Arrangement. Her first name is perhaps a nod to Vile Bodies, and as encounters are played out in Mayfair clubs and their ilk

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