Droll, deadpan delivery focuses on plight of oddball characters
THIS PATCHY “tragedy of manners” is the fourth novel from Canada’s Patrick deWitt, best known for his Bookershortlisted
Here, it’s a mother and son who are the centre of attention: fiercely possessive widow Frances, and Malcolm, her lugubrious, lumpen manchild. Frances, once a wealthy Upper East Side beauty, is facing ruin, having run her way through the fortune of her fantastically unscrupulous lawyer husband, Frank.
Gossip surrounds her sanity, too, as she apparently believes that Frank’s soul has commandeered the body of her cat. Not that she could give a fig – intent only on splashing the last of her cash in style, she hightails it to Paris with both son and moggy in tow.
What any of this adds up to is hard to say, but deWitt succeeds in mining genuine pathos from the plight of his oddball cast of characters, while his droll, deadpan delivery somehow gets under the skin.