HUGGER MUGGER by Max Davidson


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From the usually sharp-eyed British satirist Davidson (The Wolf, 1984; Beef Wellington Blue, 1985), a rather ordinary comedy of manners about a young English couple having marital troubles. Tony and Jo Baxter, in their late 20s, would seem to be a happily married, upwardly mobile, suburban London couple: he's a brilliant civil servant, she works for the right charities and gives English lessons on the side. Jo is ""Hugger"" because of her tendency to love everyone; Tony is ""Mugger"" because of his intellectual bullying, his ""mental thuggery."" Together they get on quite well, both in bed (where they play ""Bears in the Cave"") and out--until Tony discovers Karen Clumpety, a luscious and very young secretary at work. Meanwhile, Jo is having a platonic little affair with Tony's best friend Guy Emery--they meet and go for long walks together, each lusting after the other, though they don't dare hold hands. Tony finally comes to his senses when he realizes, during one tryst with Karen, that he is utterly unable to recall her name. He goes home and confesses to Jo (who has by this time dumped Guy), counting on her good nature to bail him out--but, alas, he counts wrong: she heads off for a feminist commune in Wales instead. A slight, somewhat overcute, finally disappointing novel--Davidson is brightly funny (as usual) when describing the civil-service bureaucracy and various eccentric minor characters, but Hugger and Mugger never rise above caricatured yuppiedom.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1987
Publisher: William Heinemann--dist. by David & Charles