TITMUSS REGAINED by John Mortimer

TITMUSS REGAINED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sequel to Paradise Postponed (1986)--Mortimer's acclaimed chronicle of postwar England, which was shown on Public Television's Masterpiece Theatre--that follows the fortunes of that quintessentially Thatcherite politician, Leslie Titmuss. Leslie is a Cabinet Minister, powerful and popular; what he needs now is a successful second marriage to obliterate the memory of his failed first one. Enter Jenny Sidonia, attractive widow of university lecturer Tony Sidonia, at the same time that Rapstone Manor, ancestral home of Leslie's first wife, comes onto the market; Leslie, who always knows what he wants, grabs both lady and country-house. However, Leslie's old nemesis Christopher Kempenflatt is planning to build a New Town on Leslie's doorstep, a project that Leslie, as a champion of market forces, cannot publicly oppose, though he gives covert support to Save Our Valley, the local resistance group headed by Fred Simcox (another old face from the earlier novel), while fighting the attempts of his conniving aide, another super-ambitious politician, to box him in. None of this is enough to sustain a full-length novel, so Mortimer cooks up a second storyline--Leslie's obsession that Jenny's dead husband (along with his reputation for absolute honesty) is casting a shadow over their marriage. He hires a detective to investigate Tony's past, and ends (predictably) by wrecking their marriage; he becomes a double loser when the New Town gets the green light. Mortimer is a writer of great charm, a master of light and shade who has done the next-to-impossible and produced a dull gray novel, devoid of subtlety. In Paradise Postponed, he kept a large cast effortlessly afloat, but here he drives his two principals grimly forward, while giving short shrift to everybody else. Too bad.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Viking