Attachment by Isabel Fonseca; The Outcast by Sadie Jones; Lost Boys by James Miller; Gardens of Water by Alan Drew - review by Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Simon Baker on Four First Novels

  • Isabel Fonseca, 
  • Sadie Jones, 
  • James Miller, 
  • Alan Drew
 

Thanks to his father’s fame, Martin Amis received a vast amount of attention when he published his debut novel; thirty-five years on, his own fame is likely to ensure that his wife, Isabel Fonseca, receives a similar amount for her debut, Attachment, a novel about mid-life infidelity. Jean is a health columnist who discovers that her husband, Mark, an advertising executive, is having an affair with a young woman who has set up an email account for Mark to which she sends luridly pornographic photographs of herself. Jean, posing as Mark, emails the woman for some months, complimenting her and urging her on to greater erotic feats; she then has a revenge fling with one of Mark’s colleagues, before her father’s illness calls her back to her native New York.

Fonseca’s style is less piquant than her husband’s (‘sundering, epic loneliness’ is one of few standout Amisisms), but she also manages to avoid cliché and ugliness throughout the novel. However, there are problems. Too much of Mark’s story is given in summary instead of being dramatised, with the result that we cannot properly get to know him. It is also difficult to imagine that Mark and his mistress would never discuss

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