Christopher + Alexandra CL

Maggie Gee, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (376p) ISBN 978-0-395-60484-7
``I did damage. Quite a lot of damage,'' belatedlybelated below admits the eponymous Alexandra Court, looking back on a greedy, selfish, amoral life. Like Josephine Hart's Damage , this is a fevered tale of obsessive love and lust, tragedy and despair, but it is written with a firmer hand, in stylish prose that delivers an electric shock. In 1986, wealthy, middle-aged Christopher Court and his younger second wife, spectacularly beautiful and demanding Alex, decide they want to be free to indulge their incessant sexual itch and sybaritic appetites. Declaring that they are going on holiday, they in fact intend never to return to London, but instead to travel in luxury--thereby abandoning Chris's two teenage children (though leaving enough money to sustain their upkeep). The story is told in darkly portentous flashbacks from the year 2005, when the marriage has been rent asunder by infidelity and murder. Chris narrates his lamentable memories from dank, effluent Venice; Alex is in fetid, oppressively humid South America; both, in fact, have reached an earthly equivalent of hell. Some readers may be put off by this self-centered pair: Chris's enslavement to his libido and Alex's monstrous smugness are hard to take, and her tardy dawning of maturity is perhaps too blatantly conveyed. But Gee handles her memorable tale adroitly, maintaining an intense tone of sexual urgency and underscoring it with suspense. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1992
Release date: 03/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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