Duplicity – Surrender – Escape. The three main characters in this book go through each phase, which are also section headings in the book, as they deal with life’s difficulties. Elfrida, a writer, is suffering from writer’s block and increasingly surrenders to alcohol as a way of coping. Talbot is a film producer, who hasn’t accepted his homosexuality, and is having lots of difficulties with the production of his latest film. Anny is an actress whose ex-husband returns, causing a major disruption in her life. How each of the three escape from their dilemmas is resolved in the last part of the book.
The 3-part structure is very effective, keeping the narrative compact, and making the story threads (which sometimes overlap) easy to follow. The dialogue is entertaining, scattered with humour befitting the characters, and the conflicts they face are realistic but not boring. I loved the way the author cleverly entwined Elfrida’s story with the story she is trying to write (for example, the first lines of “Trio” are the first lines of Elfrida’s book). Highly recommended.
“He poured himself a small calming Scotch and soda. This ridiculous pop song was in his head – the park, the cake, the rain, the sweet green icing flowing down, the bloody missing recipe -“
“Even those dearest to us are closed books. If you want to know what’s going on in their heads behind those masks we all wear – then read a novel.”
Guardian: “Set on a Brighton film set in 1968, this showbiz story is intricate and funny – but should William Boyd be taking more risks?”
The Scotsman: “Trio is a delight, one of Boyd’s best novels, to be ranked with The New Confessions, Any Human Heart and Restless. Never content to repeat himself, he treats each novel as a new challenge. In Trio he meets that challenge triumphantly.”
Publishers Weekly: “Filled with outlandish and amusing characters, including predatory talent agents and a pornography-peddling has-been actor, Boyd’s novel offers its heroes paths to escape their burdens, some of which are a bit implausible, but all are fun to watch. Boyd is an exquisite stylist, and his tragicomic novel is a sublime escape.”