cover image Inglorious


Joanna Kavenna, . . Metropolitan, $24 (286pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-8189-3

K avenna’s grinding first novel arrives a year after her well-reviewed nonfiction debut, The Ice Museum . In the wake of her mother’s death, 30-something Rosa Lane walks out of her job as a London critic. When her relationship of 10 years ends (her boyfriend gets engaged to a mutual friend), Rosa’s nascent nervous breakdown hits full force. She cuts her life down to the size of a duffle bag, couch-surfs into ever-deeper personal and financial lows and can’t bring herself to respond to work inquiries or to ask her father for a loan. Kavenna’s all-too-faithful rendering of the fight to stay sane ends as Rosa rouses her strength to confront her ex- before his wedding, and then to board a train to Paris, where she seems likely as not to hit bottom in a city full of strangers. Kavenna is incisive and funny enough to make Rosa convincingly crazy, but Rosa’s repetitive, nonresolving woes give the novel an unpleasant quality, something like Leaving Las Vegas meets Groundhog Day . (June)