Faber & Faber
REVIEW BY: Aly Verbaan
PLUNGING right in, Deborah Levy presents a small ensemble of holiday-makers convened around a pool in the south of France — world-famous poet Joe and his frosty wife, Isabel, fellow guests Mitchell and Laura, hippie houseboy Jurgen, and the alluring extra, Kitty Finch — and then she deconstructs them, skinning back layers and exposing one intramural after another. Kitty is mentally volatile (and regularly naked in public). She’s off her meds, and is possibly stalking Joe, in the hope that he will cast his eye over a poem she’s written, but he invents convenient schemes not to, even as he finds himself seduced by her. Their sexual fender-bender is inexorable, and just how they intersect each other and what repercussions their irresponsible navigations bring generates disconcerting traction.
Levy’s Booker-shortlisted story of tedious Brits-in-Biarritz is rescued from the pedestrian by its succinctness — at just 150 pages it could be a novella. But it is no less cogent for its brevity — it hovers like a bee, and stings like one too.
This review appeared in the Cape Times in 2012