The story of Deborah Levy’s fifth and latest novel seems unassuming on the surface. A dysfunctional family – the poet Joseph, his distant wife Isabel, their pubescent daughter Nina – and an unsuccessful antique-dealing couple arrive at their holiday villa on the French Riviera to find a beautiful woman, Kitty Finch, naked in their swimming pool. Isabel invites her to stay, infidelity ensues, and tragedy follows.
Kitty has recently stopped taking antidepressants and is clearly unhinged. Although she is written off as ‘mental’ by most of the holiday-goers, for Joseph, who becomes her uneasy lover, she elicits a fraught fascination: