The love story of a kept man told from the perspective of his ardent, married, male keeper.
The man on the third floor is Barry Rogers, part-time driver and full-time lover of Walter Samson, who lives with his wife, Phyllis, and two children, Henry and Kate, in the lower floors of a spacious house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The secret, hinted at in the title and revealed in the first paragraph, is really no secret: We read to learn whether Walter outs himself or is outed. Walter tells his story: childhood; sexual initiation; marriage; a stay in D.C. during World War II; and professional success in publishing. Installing Barry in a small room next to the cook and the maid, Walter relies on his wealth and status to hide the love of his life within easy reach and in plain sight. The influence that prejudice exercises on all the characters is pernicious. Only Walter seems to think his secret can be kept. Walter is, unsurprisingly, profoundly ambivalent as he learns who has known and for how long.
Though Walter is a compelling character, this is a lackluster effort.