Autumn in London, Thatcher’s Britain. As the rooms of the National Gallery echo to strange footsteps, and a bomb explodes in distant Brighton, a young painter receives a bizarre commission from his ailing and obsessive uncle. Gradually the past returns to engulf him, freighted by scenes and personalities he has long hoped to forget. In the year of the creation of the Turner prize, competing schools wrangle over the future of art. Demonstrations disturb the nocturnal city. A royal palace bursts into flames. Who is in charge exactly, and who is manipulating whom?
Set between London and Amsterdam, this is a story of dependence, of love and forgetfulness, of collusion and its consequences, decision and regret. It is at once a comedy of circumstance and a meditation on the tensions between art and reality, deception and truth.
ROBERT FRASER is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the author of twenty-seven books, including a 2002 Spectator book of the year and, in May 2012, a front runner in the Independent’s chart of new biographies. He lives in London and the Cotswolds.