Portia the Canadian daughter of an English father, comes to London to satisfy a curiosity and a craving. She is twenty-seven, and works for the Toronto Herald; she has never got over her father’s suicide, when she was fourteen, and remains more or less at war with her mother. She has had lovers in plenty, for she is, everyone assures her, very beautiful, but as the novel opens she is my earning for a new love and a chance to find her English roots. In this version of the tale, Cinderella finds her Prince at the beginning, on a pavement, and in possession of an aunt who is an editor with a job going. Luke himself offers the spare room in his flat. For a weekly column of a thousand words (which, fortunately, she can knock off in forty minutes), she is set up in London, in close proximity to a handsome, charming and well-bred young Englishman, a city banker. Who would have thought she could foul that up?
The novel suffers from excessive descriptive detail: extraneous characters named and described, objects interpolated, unhelpful sides. ‘The knowledge…fills my empty soul… much as the water I am running fills this bath.’ We spend a lot of time in bathrooms, lavatories and bed. Or thereabouts. Lots of detail; not always fragrant.