Reviewed by Margret Laird
Here is a fresh new first novel dealing with three Oxford graduates entering the real world in the very recent timescale of Trump and #MeToo. Iris is off to New York to write, Ezra is in a coming band, and Nance in the process of becoming involved with an older academic. Iris and Ezra have been lovers, now facing physical separation. They are all privileged in their lively intelligence, continuing financial support and pure youthful joie de vivre.The novel, largely by Iris, maps their progress from August 2016 to January 2018 as they meet up, part, get together again, garner more sexual and life experience on the way, and in the process, chart their relationships by means of e-mails, play lists and texts. They represent their generation – millenials – in their concerns with the frailties of mental health, power imbalances in friendship and sex, and their creative ambitions. First loves still linger in their lives.
The real pleasure of this book is the way in which Iris muses on her everyday life and events – immediately, in the first of three sections we find out how the flight to New York goes. She is, by turns, witty, contemplative and well-read. Then we are in Ezra’s world, and later, in Nance’s. The effect on the reader is akin to that of reading a good diary. In the second section, we find Iris in a darker mood, needing the help of a psychiatrist. Everything seems more serious now.
In the third and final section, Iris experiments with high-class escort work, and a much darker mood prevails. Experience of life has touched them all, and although there is a wonderfully decadent, final birthday party in which they are all involved, matters come to an end for Iris upon the receipt of an urgent message, “Get an early flight….”Real life is calling.
This is a book about millenials for millenials. Older readers may feel slightly divorced from the action, but it is, nonetheless, a smart and witty page-turner.