One day, out of the blue, Henry Nagel inherits a sumptuous apartment in St John's Wood. Divine intervention? Or his late father's love nest? Henry doesn't know, but he is glad to escape the North. After nearly sixty years of angry disappointment, Henry's life is about to change.
Not that the ghosts of Henry's past are prepared to disappear without a struggle - his old school-friend and rival Osmond 'Hovis' Belkin, currently enjoying success in Hollywood; his tragic great aunt Marghanita for whom Henry once entertained a dangerous passion; and his father Izzi, upholsterer turned illusionist, fire-eater and origamist, whose shade Henry interrogates relentlessly. But the present clamours as loudly as the past. His dyspeptic neighbour Lachlan wants his sympathy; Lachlan's sloppy red setter, Angus, wants a walk; and Moira, the waitress with the crooked smile and custard hair, seems to want him. Kicking and screaming every inch of the way, Henry realises he might finally be falling in love.
Our funniest living writer
One of the country's very best writers. The British Philip Roth
Jacobson's writing is as luscious and funny as ever... You're never far from comic brilliance
This is a beautifully rounded portrait of a man gazing into the prism of the past... And love, no less, is the key, exquisitely articulated and celebrated
Terrific... Jacobson is at the top of his form
Trying to crack that opening line? Got a first novel lingering in a drawer? This year, on penguin.co.uk and the Penguin Podcast, we've chatted to lots of authors about their craft. Here's some highlights to give you a helping hand.
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