Isabel Costello’s remarkably assured debut novel offers an intense analysis of a passionate, secret love affair between a married woman and the son of her husband’s best friend.
With confident and flowing prose the reader is soon immersed in the elegant world of Parisian art where younger characters rebel against the fragile veneer of more adult sophistication ~ and the turning of many a knowing eye from the baser realities of life.
While reading the earlier parts of this novel I found myself thinking time and again of a favourite French author of mine ~ Colette ~ and most especially of her tragic romance which is called Cheri, in which a gauchely handsome young man falls in love with an older woman.
However, Costello tricked me. Whether influenced by Colette or not, the second half of this novel held the atmosphere and elegance of a French art house movie. The descriptions of food, of clothes, of place; all so vivid and evocative. And yet, this is not a novel concerned with the externals of life. At its soul it is a confession of love that comes from the deep within the heart.
The cover ~ It is cool and sophisticated, but I’m not sure it does the book justice, particularly the tag line that might give the impression of a shallower sort of novel. For me, this considered and literary work deserves something more stylish; perhaps more ‘French.’