What makes Cartwright's protagonists lively, multi-faceted and compelling is their acute and ashamed self-awareness. Both were attracted to power through "a desire for divinity" and as the media begin to control their every move, they recognise that fame and political success provide no protection. "Their love, which had seemed Olympian, had been directed down to street level". Like the war heroes of their past, their place in history becomes increasingly fragile as the affair and the attack accrue national curiosity and political repercussions.
Cartwright is a master at detailing the "amateur dramatic gothicness of Parliament" and the "range of small vanities" Richard enjoys. He also applies a shrewd satiric wit to the world of luvvies where champagne is the "PR antibiotic" and American English "more suited to the task at hand". As well as delivering a piercing critique of class and aspiration, Cartwright's delightfully urbane and fluid novel also investigates Englishness with the sharp, uncompromising eye of the outsider. "Englishness had become a self-parody", thinks Joanna, whose fame rests on "playing an icy English bitch ... a type that no longer existed outside films and plays". As the old certainties collapse around them, Richard and Joanna try to assemble a new code of nobility. Encumbered by values they once scorned, their journey from self-love to something more testing is extremely consoling, satisfying and humane. An excellent, highly contemporary novel about vanity and seduction. --Cherry Smyth
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Used availability for Justin Cartwright's Half in Love
January 2001 : UK Hardback
January 2002 : UK Paperback
January 2001 : UK Paperback