Synopses & Reviews
A brilliantly observed modern morality tale, Talitha Stevensons Exposure
explores the terrible effects of deceit, obsession, and shame on a dangerously complacent family. Alistair Langford, a respected and powerful barrister, has been hiding his past since he left his hometown of Dover to study at Oxford in the late 1950s. Embarrassed by his working-class upbringing in a guesthouse run by his single mother, with whom he has not had any contact for forty years, he has lied about himself to everyone in his life since Oxford, including his wife, Rosalind, and his two children, Luke and Sophie. But after the death of his mother and a one-night stand with a devious defense witness, his tightly woven tapestry of lies begins to unravel.
Exposure is a deftly plotted, psychologically suspenseful, and compulsively readable novel from one of the most exciting young fiction writers today.
"Rich and psychologically astute, British author Stevenson's impressive second novel (after 2004's An Empty Room) refracts the life of an upper-middle-class English family Alistair Langford, a prominent London lawyer; his devoted wife, Rosalind; and two grown children, Luke and Sophie through the prism of a single, scandalous affair Alistair has with a witness in one of his cases. The event exposes the intricate web of lies that forms Alistair's life, in particular the flagrant denial of his middle-class past as he pursues success and respectability by virtue of his amazing intellect. The most intricate portrait is that of 28-year-old Luke, an advertising executive who embarks on a torrid affair with a high-strung, beautiful and self-absorbed actress, only to be emotionally devastated when she leaves him. Luke's increasingly desperate ploys to win her back are a key narrative arc, though the main story is Alistair's. A fine writer who paints her scenes with loving detail, Stevenson also depicts her characters' thoughts and insights with an acuity reminiscent of Ian McEwan's recent triumph, Saturday. The increasingly baroque plot threatens to overwhelm the novel, but this is nonetheless the work of a writer to be watched. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Stevenson limns the depths of passion...in a quietly tense cautionary tale that forces her peevish characters to cope with the fallout from their moral ambiguities." Booklist
"What begins as a mystery soon evolves into an affecting drama that will leave readers caring deeply about the ups and downs of the Langfords." Library Journal
"All the considerable pleasures of John Galsworthy's The Forsythe Saga
in modern wrapping." Kirkus Reviews
"[U]nder Stevenson's masterful and merciful hand, the novel ultimately turns into an unapologetic love story, reminding us first of our fragility and then of the ability to forgive. A-." Entertainment Weekly
"Exposure confirms the young English author's uncanny flair for psychological plots....With meticulous suspense, Stevenson send her four Langfords down their seemingly doomed paths only to grant them each his or her own revelatory and believable happiness." Vogue
Prominent lawyer Alistair Langford has worked hard to achieve his immense ambitions, but in the course of just one evening he recklessly destroys everything. The scandal threatens his marriage and exposes a secret he has hidden his entire adult life.
Meanwhile, his son Luke, who has led a privileged life but also has worked hard to achieve his own success, has fallen in love with a beautiful actress. When she suddenly leaves him, he plummets into a dangerous depression. His ideals in tatters, he seeks a kind of redemption by taking in two asylum seekers from Kosovo, whose struggles contrast starkly and poignantly with his own.
A deftly plotted, highly suspenseful, and astutely observed morality tale, Exposure explores the dangerous pleasure of offering charity, the effects of deceit and shame on a rigidly complacent family, and the nature of love among family and friends.
About the Author
TALITHA STEVENSON has written for the Daily Mail and the Guardian. She has lived and studied in Oxford, Florence, and London, where she currently resides. An Empty Room is her first novel.