IMAGO: A Modern Comedy of Manners by James McClure

IMAGO: A Modern Comedy of Manners

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Mystery-writer (The Artful Egg, 1985, etc.) and cop-chronicler (Cop World, 1985) McClure now offers a winsome midlife love story about a middle-aged English doctor who within one turbulent week exchanges a stale marriage for a true and passionate love. Dr. Tom Lockhart doesn't realize how empty his life is until he and shrewish wife Sylvia are invited to the country house of old Oxford pal Hugh. Hugh's daughter Ginny, 18, takes Tom's breath away, and he fantasizes that he's loved her since she was 12. Back at the hospital (he's a radiologist), Tom tortures himself for his indecent desire, scrawling it on a paper--which disappears. He takes comfort from a lunch with sensible female doctor Felicity, but his insides chum that evening when a monkish colleague, Geoff, presents him with the damning paper and lectures Tom for coveting Felicity. Days later, Ginny shows up at the hospital, showing Tom an anniversary present for her parents: a nude etching of two women (one of whom looks like Ginny). Tom takes Ginny up on her invitation to meet the female artist, guessing that the woman is a lesbian with designs on Ginny--a conclusion only the sensible Felicity can dispel. Now on an emotional seesaw, Tom finds Geoff raving drunk at the hospital--and soon Geoff vanishes, killing himself in a reckless accident and sending word via a friend that Tom's licentious example is to blame. In the midst of this turmoil, wife Sylvia takes off; Tom tumbles into bed with a good-hearted chippy, learns some lessons about love, and has a bittersweet encounter with Ginny's mother. Finally, at Geoff's funeral, Tom lets go of his misplaced love for Ginny--and winds up where he belongs. McClure's wry charm flags at times--the suicidal Geoff is a jarring note, plucked from a darker mystery. Overall, though, a sweet-tempered version of the old song of midlife crisis, well-sung.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1987
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine