What is the book about? How well do we know other people - even when we all belong to a small ex-pat community in a foreign capital? Allan Massie's edgy and disturbing study of English-speaking alcoholics living in Rome examines this great literary theme - and does much more besides. The broken people who inhabit this stark and inventive novel live their intense and meaningful relationships a few steps removed from the noise and bustle of the host community that surrounds them - a sympathetically portrayed backdrop whose "noises off" remind the reader of a steadier, less isolated world beyond the central characters whose obsessions we follow through a vibrant, fast-paced and compelling dialogue. The words and thoughts of these characters in most cases reveal not so much self-interest as the total isolation of the human self, but the author's acute analysis is mitigated by moments of tenderness and humour. This is a story of corrupting power (a common theme in Massie's work), the random nature of violence and indeed most other things, and, of course, the emotional effort that we, and particularly alcoholics, have to put into just surviving For our meeting on the 19th July we are reading Vikram Seth's masterpiece A Suitable Boy. We offer 10% discount on the current book to Bookgroup members. So join today! Just email your name and address to email@example.com. (oxygen_142)
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