Monday, October 11, 2004

Richard B. Wright, Adultery.

I gave someone a copy of Clara Callan for Christmas a space back, but I must confess that it's not one I've read. Nor, in fact, had I read any of Wright's other books until I picked this one up.

Adultery is the story of Daniel Fielding, a middle-aged editor at a publishing firm. In fact, the adultery has already been committed, and is not to be repeated, when the novel opens: after beginning an affair with another editor from his firm at a book fair, the two travelled to Dover together. While stopped at a car-park, they have sex, and she goes to relieve herself while he sleeps--and she is killed.

The novel deals with the aftermath: Fielding explaining Denise's disappearance, identifying the body, telling Denise's mother, avoiding the press, clumsily apologising to his wife and to his daughter, attending the funeral. The story is how Fielding tries to make sense of these events, of what caused the affair and of his regret. It's well told, spare and elegant, but it never gripped me. I could have put it down without too much guilt or regret. I doubt I'll read it again, and unlike some pundits, I'm unsurprised that it didn't earn a Giller nomination.