Sebastian Faulks, Author . Random $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-375-50225-5

Jazz fans may recognize the title of this tepid novel about a love triangle set in 1960, but the reference (to a 1960 Miles Davis hit) will do little to enhance their appreciation of this disappointing work, the fifth novel from British writer Faulks (Birdsong; The Girl at the Lion d'Or; Charlotte Gray). Moving away from his trademark early 20th-century French settings, the writer tries out his meticulous brand of melancholy romance on mid-20th-century America. Charles van der Linden, a British diplomat posted to Washington, is in a serious slump: his investments are losing money, political suspicions poison his career and he increasingly turns to alcohol for solace. His gentle wife, Mary, is holding things together, but when the couple's two children must be sent to school in England, she finds herself at a loose end. On a visit to New York, she is shown the sights by newspaper reporter Frank Renzo, and the two embark on a passionate affair. The outline of the story is unremarkable, but it does have dramatic potential: will Mary leave her disaffected, alcoholic husband and her beloved children to join her soul mate Frank in his quasi-bohemian Greenwich Village life? But Faulks doesn't generate the intensity he is known for, relying instead on unconvincing interior monologues and flashbacks to flesh out the three characters. He has clearly done his homework on the period—details of current events abound, along with minute descriptions of what the characters eat, drink and smoke—but the descriptions are just filler. The novel feels unformed and inert, with reportage substituting for imagination, and never reveals the heart-wrenching power that characterized Birdsong. 10-city author tour. (Jan. 15)

Forecast: Birdsong and Charlotte Gray were bestsellers, but Faulks's latest effort looks unlikely to hit the charts, despite (or because of) its American setting. Faulks's earlier books, however, will soon get a boost: film adaptations of Charlotte Gray (to be released in the U.S. in early 2002 and starring Cate Blanchett) and Birdsong (unscheduled) are forthcoming.

Reviewed on: 12/24/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Show other formats
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-09-180210-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-85686-723-8
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-09-179350-0
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-09-927583-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 346 pages - 978-0-09-943693-5
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-375-70456-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4025-1159-2
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4070-5272-4
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-8041-5362-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-322-07480-1
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.