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The Blue Bookby A. L. Kennedy
Synopses & Reviews
From one of the U.K.s most dazzling novelists—whom Richard Ford has called “a profound writer”—comes this daring new novel set in the unsteady, self-contained world of a luxury liner.
While on a transatlantic trip with her soon-to-be-fiancé Derek, Elizabeth unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Arthur, with whom she shares a shady past: The pair once worked as traveling spiritual mediums who conned the vulnerable by pretending to contact the spirits of departed loved ones. While Derek remains seasick and cabin-bound, Elizabeth wanders the ship, alternately avoiding and seeking out Arthur. Unable to avoid memories of their fractured past, she must face the deception they practiced even as she accepts the peace they brought to the grief-stricken who sought their services.
Intimately addressed to “you,” the reader, The Blue Book is both a portrait of two methodical con artists and a meditation on “how love is a private language, a set of codes, to which the outside world ought not admit impediment” (Telegraph). Irresistibly written, by turns comically wry and stunningly lyrical, with “some of the most unashamedly erotic writing since Nicholson Baker first contemplated a telephone receiver” (New Statesman), the book slowly, deliberately, and devastatingly reveals itself to the reader. The heartbreaking stakes are ultimately nothing less than fact and fiction, life and death.
"Kennedy's deeply original novel, her 11th work of fiction (after What Becomes), nominated for the Orange Prize, is set on a luxury cruise from England to New York. Beth is on the ship with her boyfriend, Derek, who she suspects will propose. When Derek gets sea sick and is confined to their cabin for most of the trip, one of the first clues that something is amiss is that Beth wants him to be ill, so that she can be free to roam, because her ex-lover, Arthur, is on the ship. But her relationship with Arthur was far from ordinary; the two conned people into thinking that the pair could contact the spirits of the dead. Beth eventually left their medium act because she and Arthur 'were earning a living out of it, turning big. I couldn't deal with that.' Arthur continued but, fraught with guilt, gave much of the spoils to charity. Kennedy circles the awful truth of the relationship between Beth and Arthur in vividly imagined scenes, accompanied by Beth's internal commentary, which can both complement the external action and bog it down in too-clever self-indulgence. But this riddle of a book, from a playful and intelligent writer, is worth a read. Agent: Antony Harwood, the Antony Harwood Literary Agency (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From one of the U.K.s most dazzling authors comes a brutal and funny novel about a pair of fraudulent psychic mediums that is itself an elaborate con game between fact and fiction, life and death—a book as verbally acrobatic as it is emotionally intense.
When ex-lovers meet on a cruise ship, secrets and lies emerge in this heartbreaking story by a modern master of the novel whom Richard Ford has called “a profound writer.” From one of the U.K.s most dazzling authors comes a brutal and funny novel about a pair of fraudulent psychic mediums that is itself an elaborate con game between fact and fiction, life and death.
Beth boards an ocean liner with Derek, her almost-fiancé, and encounters her past in the form of Arthur, a not-quite-ex lover. The sea voyage churns up fraught memories of the shady life she and Arthur led, acting as spiritual mediums to fleece the vulnerable. The Blue Book is a haunting meditation (per the Telegraph) about “how love is a private language, a set of codes, to which the outside world ought not admit impediment; about the rightness of doing wrong by false love when true love is waiting down the companionway.” Mysterious, virtuosic, and ultimately heartbreaking, The Blue Book is A. L. Kennedy at the height of her powers.
About the Author
A.L. Kennedy is the author of The Blue Book, What Becomes, and several other novels and collections. Twice named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists, Kennedy won the Costa Book of the Year Award for Day. She lives in London.
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