Out of Love

Victoria Clayton, Author St. Martin's Press $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-18645-6
With a sensibility one part Wodehouse and two parts Hieronymous Bosch, Clayton's debut isn't your ordinary English comedy of contemporary manners. Daisy Fairfax is five when Hitler invades Poland and not much older when her self-centered mother sends her to ""a snobbish little boarding school in Sussex,"" ostensibly to shelter her from the Blitz. This is where she meets Min Bartholomew, who, having been raised by nannies and governesses, is as helpless in every practical sense as Daisy is resourceful. Their friendship continues at Oxford until (weakened by sleeping pills) Daisy shares her bed with Hugh Anstey, the (momentary) love of Min's life. Daisy's betrayal costs her 15 years of friendship. But when Daisy and Min meet again at a university reunion, Min's forgiveness is swift and generous. She invites the still-single Daisy to spend a weekend in the country with her and her family at Weston Hall, the ancestral house of Min's husband. Before Daisy knows it, she has usurped control of the household: caring for Min's neglected children, cooking, gardening, bringing the leering, oafish groundsman into line--and meanwhile losing her heart to Min's husband. No blemish goes undetected in this captivating story about the varieties of frailty and forgiveness, and its cast of gently decadent English extras (among them Daisy's aged, nymphomaniacal mother, Min's priapic neighbor and her beautiful, pothead son) will amuse ""Ab-Fab"" fans and Merchant-Ivory addicts alike. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Hardcover - 374 pages - 978-0-7528-2743-8
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