Fallout

Sadie Jones. Harper, $25.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-229281-0

Jones’s latest (after The Uninvited Guests) follows the career of Luke Kanowski, who leaves behind his dysfunctional family in Northern England and moves to London in the late 1960s to pursue a career as a playwright. He is soon befriended by aspiring producer Paul Driscoll and Paul’s girlfriend, Leigh Radley; together, the three start a small theater company called Graft. The trio’s fulfilling artistic life together gradually comes under the strain of Luke’s compulsive womanizing and Leigh’s unrequited attraction to him. Their rocky triangle is further threatened by Nina Jacobs, who has been groomed by her mother, a failed actress, for a life on the stage; Luke becomes obsessed with Nina’s melancholy beauty, but her marriage to an abusive theater producer, Tony, complicates their romance. As Luke and Nina embark on a torrid love affair, Luke finds success on his own as a playwright and is forced to choose between his hard-to-please beloved and the friends who have nursed his ambitions. An engrossing melodrama of theater life, the novel’s only drawback is Jones’s tendency toward precious turns of phrase. Her talent emerges most in the absorbing plot, which convincingly shows how friends can be torn apart by lust and ambition. [em]Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (May) [/em]
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