This is 1989 novel by Fay Weldon, the British novelist most famous for The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil, a novel I read for a class in grad school (great class about body issues in literature) and a movie I saw weirdly as a kid a number of times starring Roseanne Barr and Ed Begley Jr and Meryl Streep.
But this book is about a woman who is on the cusp of leaving her loveless marriage and is following a jazz trumpetist into the wilds of French nightclubs in the mid-1980s. Her following him is both about him and not about him as she tries to work through the events and choices that have led her here.
This book is has an odd combination of an extremely rich narrative voice that is wildly intelligent and emotionally insightful, and also quite nasty. And not really the kind of righteous or ironic kind of nasty. It’s kind of just unpleasant. But at the same time, I agree with so much of what insight she provides. It’s the late 80s and so her attitudes on homosexuality and AIDS are a little too flippant and/or cavalier and that’s an issue, but also as a character study, it is fascinating.
So the consequence of this novel is that while I liked She-Devil a lot because of its clear biting satire, I don’t like this one as much because I am less clear on its tone, so much as the mood invoked by the tone.