The dangers of wealth

1 December 2008

Adam Thorpe’s new novel, Between Each Breath, really explores the dangers of wealth; it is about a talented composer who marries an heiress who is an ecological worker and child of the privileged. The composer isn’t and, although loved by his wife, he becomes stultified, frozen, trapped in a mundane routine, rattling around his Hampstead home, shuttling from embittered friends to complacent relatives. Everything comes apart when a brief fling in Estonia catches up with him five years later: his Estonian lover comes to England with his club-footed son, who he knew nothing about. Wifey finds out. He divorces and moves to Estonia, to live the honest but rough life. His Estonian lover is now married but they are friends.

Thorpe’s novel is big and baggy and full of ideas. In the main, most of his characters are unsympathetic, but the narrative is very readable because he does detail so well; the cloying, materialism of Noughties Britain is wonderfully evoked.

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