This time out Amis pere has written a sort of dourly comic version of le Carre's The Russia House. English expert on Slavic languages Richard Vaisey, married to dreadful but wealthy Cordelia, falls for visiting Russian poet Anna Danilova, who seeks English celebrity support to get her brother out of a Moscow jail (the time is the period surrounding the failed coup against Gorbachev). This presents an agonizing dilemma for the lovelorn Richard: Anna is a terrible poet, so what is he to do? And how is he to keep her and suspicious Cordelia apart? In lighter hands this could be the stuff of a lively contemporary farce, and there are certainly some comic moments: Cordelia, for instance, is a brilliant creation, and her extended revenge, when Richard finally plucks up the courage to leave her, is horrifyingly hilarious. But Amis's awkwardly plodding style, admired though it may be in England, and the rather dim characterization of Richard, allow the story to be only fitfully amusing. At least Amis's customary misogyny is all concentrated this time on the fearful Cordelia, and in Anna he has created one of his more believable and likable women. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994 Release date: 05/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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