Droll, dead­pan de­liv­ery fo­cuses on plight of od­dball char­ac­ters

Pretoria News - - Lifestyle - FRENCH EXIT Pa­trick DeWitt Loot.co.za (R 312) BLOOMS­BURY Daily Mail

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.

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