Publishing year: 1997
The beginning of this book gives us quite a depressing picture.
The narrator is Ben, a lawyer, married and with two small sons, one of whom is just a four-month-baby. Life at home is far from idyllic. Ben and his wife Beth are at daggers drawn, and they can hardly talk without arguing. Ben tries to talk to her, but she rebuffs him. It doesn’t help that their baby is fractious and keeps crying and crying all the time. Beth and Ben are exhausted, and their riff widens as the disagreements keep happening.
From Ben’s recollections we learn that since he was young, he wanted to be a photographer, and he still photographs, but it was his father’s pressure and his bad luck in the field that forced him to do something that he didn’t really like. There is a pivotal woman in Ben’s past. Kate Brymer used to be his girlfriend when they were at college; she wanted to write and she believed that he could be a great photographer one day. However, when they decided to spend a year in Paris, she had no problem to find a job, and then she left Ben for her boss. So Ben found himself alone and without even a job, so he had to return to his country. It was then that his father played his card and convinced him to resume his studies.
The tone of the novel so far is quite depressing. Ben is clearly not happy, and even though he loves his children, it is as if they had happened despite himself just like his career. The relationship with Beth is even more difficult, and I wonder if they really love each other. I have the hunch that Kate Brymer will get back to Ben’s life in some way. I hope the tone lifts a bit, because so far it is quite gloomy and hard to read.