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The New York Times: "beautifully observed . . .[and] moving drama."

Date: Oct 30 2013

This brief, beautifully observed novel finds Noël Coward in his last years, at Firefly, his home in Jamaica, where he died of a heart attack at 73 in the early 1970s. The urbane Coward is the perfect figure to mine for both poignancy and humor at a stage of his life when he is, in his own words, “a professional hermit.” Looking at his reflection, he sees “an overgrown reptile.” (“Whatever happened to the face-lift?” he wonders.) Ms. Jenkins allows her fading protagonist the occasional bon mot. “Love hurts,” Coward says, “but it’s curable.” She juxtaposes his sunset against the aspirations of a young Jamaican servant named Patrice, who dreams of living in London and working at the Ritz. Coward’s reluctance to write a letter of recommendation to the hotel — whether he simply can’t be bothered, or because he’s jealous of a young life in London, or because he cares for Patrice more than he lets on — constitutes the book’s minor but moving drama.

-John Williams

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