Janette Jenkins. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $15 (176p) ISBN 978-1-60945-140-0
Famed for his quick wit and sartorial elegance, playwright Noel Coward was a legend in his own time. But in Jenkins's (Columbus Day) new novel, that time has passed. Bitter and disillusioned, Coward is now an old man who has become a ghost of his own legend. Secluded inside Firefly, his Jamaican retreat, Coward lives a purgatorial existence smoking and drinking by the pool, interrupted only by periodic visits from former lovers who act more like caretakers. In his isolation, Coward constantly drifts off, reliving moments from his charmed life with cameos from such luminaries as Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, and Gertrude Lawrence. Amid these specters is Coward's youthful manservant, Patrice, an aspiring writer, whose naivete, vivaciousness, and aspiration simultaneously repels and charms the cynical Coward. As Coward forges a unique and complex relation with Patrice—less than a friend, more than an employer—he comes to understand how the world has moved past him, how London favors the young and the bold. Jenkins brilliantly captures the story of a hoity-toity intellectual in his final days, as his talent and health begin to fade leaving him with little but his memories and legacy for solace. The result is a tender and melancholy read. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7011-8742-2
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4481-2975-1
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-09-957504-7
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