The third in Brooke-Rose's sequence of early realist novels, The Dear Deceit, first published in 1960, chronicles in reverse the misadventures of Alfred Northbrook Hayley, a scheming opportunist whose canards and manipulations are met with fatigue and irritation among his family, and whose romantic, financial, and religious struggles form in part a striking autobiographical portrait of Brooke-Rose's own father, Alfred Rose. By moving in reverse order from adulthood to childhood, the novel is structured as a form of genealogical investigation, subverting the conventional bildungsroman by presenting a sequence of sometimes disconnected episodes rather than a coherent lifestory. This first paperback edition contains an illuminating introduction by Joseph Andrew Darlington, who traces via archival material the parallels with Brooke-Rose's own family history, and her careful splicing of fiction and fact. The Dear Deceit is perhaps her most sombre work, if still sharp with satirical observation and witty, cutting dialogue.
December 2014 : Paperback