A rollicking yarn, in the best J.P. Donleavy tradition, about an Irish scribbler on the make, told with wit and style by playwright Leonard (Out After Dark, 1991, etc.).
T.J. (“Thady”) Quill is a happy fixture of the Dublin literary scene. A film buff and reviewer, he gets on well with the small but stylish circle of the city’s thespians. Most of them have to cadge their drinks when they go out, but T.J. has managed to get himself a sweet job on the strength of his reviews: Chief archivist and general director of the Sean O’Fearna Center in Dublin. O’Fearna was an Irish-American director (read: John Ford) known primarily for his westerns. His widow Kitty is known by one and all as a holy terror who could bargain the miter off an archbishop: In exchange for setting the O’Fearna Center up in Dublin, she managed to get Irish citizenship posthumously awarded to her husband. Now she’s taken a shine to T.J. and taps him to write the authorized biography. Can things get any better? Well, nothing attracts like success, and soon T.J. finds himself with a mistress—the beautiful Josie Head, married to the rich wastrel Andrew Head. Even T.J.’s long-faced wife Greta begins to look kindly on her newly successful husband. But there’s no place like Ireland for taking a man down off his high horse. First, the daughter of T.J.’s best friend is seduced and impregnated by Kitty’s godson. Then T.J. gets himself beat up by Andrew. Finally, Kitty finds out about an unauthorized sequel to one of O’Fearna’s films that T.J. has begun to produce behind her back—and fires him on the spot. Back at square one, he has no one to rely on but his wife. But in Ireland, remember, if herself is on your side you’ve not too much to fear.
Delightfully witty, funny, and true-to-life: Leonard’s debut novel should travel better than Guinness.