Suddenly in Rome

Max Davidson, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-340-41514-6
The insouciant, wise-guy tone of an expatriate Englishman batting out potboilers in Rome masks the profound seriousness of this riveting novel, whose themes are love, madness and death. The plot centers around narrator-novelist Mark Barham, helplessly in love with Helen Danes, whose husband Geoffrey worships Shakespeare to the exclusion of all living people, not excepting his wife. Mark considers Geoffrey certifiably mad, and lunatic he seems, as he directs a company of English amateurs, Mark among them, in The Winter's Tale , to be played before an as-yet-nonexistent Italian audience. But Mark's passion is more corrosive still, driving him to murder a journalist he believes to be Helen's lover; the deed troubles him less than does Geoffrey's manic insistence on continuing rehearsals in the face of tragedy and almost certain failure. Davidson's ( Hugger Mugger ) witty and urbane prose, rich evocation of Italian life, and dialogue deft enough to deal lightly with matters literary and philosophic, persuade the readeras does Shakespeare in The Winter's Tale to suspend disbelief. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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