With settings ranging from smart London offices to remote country houses, from Cambridge in the early 1950s to a colony of voluntary artistic exiles in the South of Spain, and from Highgate to Jamaica and the USA, this new collection from Frederic Raphael is as incisive, original and enjoyable as we would expect from the author of Oxbridge Blues and The Glittering Prizes. A young couple abandon the rat-race for a pastoral idyll in 'The People in Euclid', until a disturbing new presence imposes upon their happiness - reminding them of what they escaped from, and inextricably linking his life with theirs. In 'Union Jack Development', the sad tale of Antonia and Stewart - pieced together from letters and diary fragments left in a drawer - casts a sinister aura over the magical Jamaican holiday house. After weeks of frantic preparation, the entire village of Torreroja - resplendent with flowers, coloured lights and with proud Mayor Don Antonio to the fore - all wait with rapt anticipation to honour 'the face with saved Spain for God' on 'The Day Franco Came'.
We meet extraordinary characters from the worlds of film, theatre and literature - like Sherman Shapiro, 'The Old Pro', who offers a budding screenwriter his first chance to break into Hollywood, but whose own life turns out rather weak in the third act; Jake Nathanson, ebullient on his heady passage to eminence, and rather less spritely on is ay down in 'Quixote Shmixote'; and Magnis Molyneux, who in 'Seniority' addresses himself to his vocation - literature - with monastic severity. We see how quickly 'the moment passes', and how flattery, favours and auld acquaintances can conveniently be forgotten. Think of England is a stylish, subtle and highly accomplished collection in which Frederic Raphael displays his astute observation of human motives and his versatility at their very best.