Tony and Susan by Austin Wright
|Tony and Susan by Austin Wright|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A book within a book and both are masterful. Originally published in 1993 it should now get the recognition it deserves. Highly recommended|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: May 2010|
|Publisher: Atlantic Books|
Edward Sheffield hadn't exactly been Susan's childhood sweetheart, but after a family tragedy left him homeless he came to live with Susan and her parents for a year so that he could finish school. Susan didn't particularly want him there but accepted that it was the right thing to do. Years later they met at university when Edward was studying law and after a short relationship they married. The marriage wasn't entirely successful; Edward gave up law to become a writer, relying on Susan's teaching income to support them, but whilst he spent a month away in a remote cabin 'to find himself' Susan found Arnold instead. Many years – and three children – later Susan receives a manuscript from Edward. She was, he said, always his best critic and he would like her opinion.
Arnold is away at a medical conference when Susan begins reading the manuscript. Tony Hastings, a professor of maths was driving to his summer house in Maine with his wife and daughter. Their ordinary, civilised lives are violently disrupted and will never be the same again. Susan is drawn into Tony's story and in doing so is forced to confront her own fears. Her life will never be the same again either.
This book was first published in 1993 and it just about sank without trace. Why, I don't know because it is, quite simply, a masterpiece and I've never read anything quite like it. Edward's manuscript – Nocturnal Animals is a superb story in itself. You'll read it all and if that was all there was to the book I would be telling you that you should read it. It's dark, it's about revenge in its darkest form and it's violent. At one point I was terrified and had to put the book down and return to it later. Susan's story – the story of a marriage, fears for the future and of ageing – is elegant, delicately turned and insightful.
But, it's when you put the two stories together and read them side by side that you understand what a masterpiece this is. We live in Susan's head as Tony's story brings to the surface her thoughts on how she has lead her life. When I turned the final page I was simply stunned and since then I've been unable to get Tony, or Susan, out of my mind.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. I'm not going to suggest any further reading because there is, quite simply, nothing with which to compare it.
Tony and Susan by Austin Wright is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2010.
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