“It was impossible to tell a pauper from a prince in this city”.
Jamie Buckby, the narrator of our story, is a strange and unsettling character. A self-proclaimed provocateur, Jamie is arrogant, his humor skirting a definite edge, his relationship with his long-time lover Clare shuttered and cautious. Pushing fifty, he works a minimum wage job, shares a massive home with Clare in one of the most prestigious areas of London, and “peddles” a life and a story we are not exactly sure is completely reliable.
The plot roils when middle-aged Jamie and Clare meet young Kit and his girlfriend Melia, two gorgeous twenty-somethings who feel like the “cool kids” and invoke a burning envy for youth now lost. Kit and Melia, on their end, party like there’s no tomorrow, but at the same time, are drowning in debt and seriously resentful of the lifestyle that Jamie and Clare, and other successful boomers, have been able to achieve in the city.
As the green-eyed monster creeps, it’s not clear at all, and becomes even less so, if there are any “princes” in the motley of characters we soon find ourselves embroiled with.
Struggling with a phobia of underground tunnels and public transit, Jamie has battled panic attacks that turn his commute into a hellish ordeal until he discovers the “river-bus” – a catamaran powered ferry system reaching all the major downtown stops. As Kit and Jamie become daily river-bus commuters, their mutually covetous world becomes even more psychologically intertwined.
Twists and turns alone do not do this delicious and dark character-driven plot justice, as the desires and machinations quickly build to a claustrophobic fever-pitch that never really lets up.
All in all a very devious and delightful book; I couldn’t put it down and read it straight through one dull and dreary afternoon.
A great big thank you to NetGalley and the author for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.