5.0 out of 5 stars Just incredibly brilliant, 8 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Flirting at the Funeral (Paperback)
I bought this because I liked the title – but it was a great and surprising find. In fact, it’s the best novel I’ve read in several years. In 1974, young students Morgan and Matty went to Portugal to participate in the revolution, but split up when Matty went off with another man from their commune. Matty married him, stayed in Portugal, and became a minor pop star there, while when the novel opens, Morgan, after various relationships and jobs, is working as a tour-guide. Morgan’s friend Howard finds a play set in a similar ’74 Portuguese commune, and sends it to him. Morgan meets now-widowed Matty in London and passes the play onto her. Matty in turn passes it onto her early-twenties daughter Luisa, who decides to use it for her film-school project. Matty is being kept by Otto, the super-rich but wheelchair-bound owner of a New-Agey health clinic in Southern Portugal, but wants to regenerate her singing career. Luisa and her film-making friends come over to stay at the expensive clinic, with its pool, haute-cuisine and inscrutable staff, and Otto pays all their expenses. Morgan joins them, then Howard and his sickly wife Anne, and then Dave, the play’s author, and still an ardent revolutionary. How long will the charming but sinister Otto keep funding them, and what does he want out of it? The contrapuntal dialogue is smart, the tension builds, the glamour is repeatedly built up and then undercut, the characters are varied, real and often amusing and the philosophical and political issues (has revolution just become another form of nostalgia?) are distinctive and intelligent. It felt like Chekhov. Who is this Chris Keil? Why isn’t he famous?