Unsuitable Arrangements

Keverne Barrett, Author
Keverne Barrett, Author Serpent's Tail $14.99 (0p) ISBN 978-1-85242-248-6
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Barrett has concocted a delightful and accomplished first novel: old-fashioned in its chronological, first-person narrative; broadly appealing in its emphasis on human relationships painstakingly limned and lovingly detailed. Alexandria Parrish is nine when she is orphaned into the care of her uncle Evelyn, who brings her from America to live with him in London. It is, as various characters note, an unsuitable arrangement. Evelyn is a wealthy man-about-town who spoils young Alex with extravagant gifts and nights out. He drinks too much, has documented affairs with women and suspected affairs with men, allows various drifters semi-permanent residence in his house and provides little discipline understandable by the outside world. Yet, seen through young Alex's critical eyes, the world is arrayed against her. She runs away, goes on hunger strikes and takes on inappropriate friends. The fabric of Alex and Evelyn's relationship frays at times, but never rips. They become not only surrogate father and daughter, but co-conspirators against conformist society, co-survivors in a difficult world and mutual security blankets against everything from death to love. (Feb.)
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