It’s great to re-visit Rosie and Daniel in Sri Lanka - or Ceylon as they still called it then. But alas, after initial happiness things turn sour. To Daniel, Ceylon is paradise but Rosie is bored and never quite the same after the death of their second child at birth. They have a third child but Rosie becomes unavailable to Daniel. He ends up taking a beautiful Tamil girl as a mistress. Then Rosie forces their return to England and Daniel finds it hard to contain his anger. They end up living separately and Rosie tries to keep Daniel away from their children, Esther and Bertie. With Bertie she succeeds but Esther and her father manage to retain a strong bond.
The novel proceeds by having the thoughts and letters of various characters advance the narrative. In typical de Bernieres style there’s a rollicking roll call of sane, charming and nutty characters whose viewpoints enlighten and enliven us. Oily Wragges’s ruminations on the privations of the war in Mesopotamia post WW I throw light on a little known part of military history. Childless but cheerful Sophie (one of Rosie’s sisters) writes amusing letters with made-up words like “enchantillating”. Another sister, Christabel, lives in a lesbian relationship with the fabulous Gatskill. They succeed in persuading Daniel to give Christabel two children to whom he is officially godfather. The sisters’ father dies and his astonishing will provides for several mistresses and their children. The sisters’ mother, suffering dementia, thinks Daniel is the Duke of Windsor and scolds him for falling prey to lust. No longer able to write poetry, Rosie becomes increasingly pious and refuses to give Daniel a divorce. Then comes WW II, and his role as a flying ace in WW I gives Daniel cachet. The novel ends - after a tragic piece of news that almost unhinges him - with Daniel agreeing to go behind enemy lines as a spy. A marvellous book full of the drama, chaos, tragedy and delight that is human life.
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Random House (5 July 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781911215622
- ISBN-13: 978-1911215622
- ASIN: 1911215620
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2 x 23.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 399 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)