London: Hamish Hamilton, 1989, (First Edition) Hardback in dust wrapper.
From the cover: Three men meet at Cragham, a country house in the north of England: Bob Layburn, the houses owner; Philip Bligh, an art historian and one of Layburns oldest friends; and George Loftus who works for an art institute in London and has come to assess some of the pictures in the house. Layburn and Bligh are old; Loftus has a young mans expectations and hopes. Each of them is affected by Craghams history and atmosphere. Its inheritance has shaped Layburns life and character; for Bligh and Loftus its history and collection bring life and romance to a hitherto dead past where they can escape from their own frustrations and unhappiness. But someone else has been here before: Layburns dead wife, Catherine, an innocent who found the reality of Cragham far harsher and more complicated. It is the discovery of her private view of her marriage that shows the limits of romance and the mistake of forcing people into our own image of them in response to some deep inexpressible personal need. In Painted Lives these images meet reality with potentially tragic consequences as their seductive power makes it almost impossible to separate falseness from truth. Told against the background of history and past greatness, the novel is an account of peoples yearnings for a life outside themselves and the way this leads almost inevitably to delusion and disappointment. Painted Lives is remarkable for its delicacy, humour and faultless dissection of the English upper classes in and out of love.
Very Good in Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper sunned at the spine. Pages lightly age-tanned.
205 pages. 8¾” x 5½”.