OFF THE KING’S ROAD by Phyllis Raphael

OFF THE KING’S ROAD

Lost and Found in London
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Journalist and novelist Raphael chronicles her daunting but ultimately rewarding stint living in London in 1968 as the abandoned wife and mother of three.

Newly arrived in London from L.A., where Raphael and her three children, ages eight, five and four, moved to join her film-producer husband, Bob, Raphael soon learns that her husband is leaving her for an 18-year-old actress. The family is renting a grand house of many stories in Chelsea belonging to Lord Henry and Lady D'Avigdor Goldsmid, off King's Road, where Raphael, shattered and lonely, with children and servants to look after and no connections or work of her own, has to create a new life for herself. But Raphael, a former actress from Brooklyn, is enterprising, and apparently a looker, and soon makes savvy contacts, with feminist friends who introduce her to reading Doris Lessing, and admirers who turn her on to mind-expanding drugs like hashish and acid. She begins frequenting her husband's former psychiatrist, David, a “man of the moment” who asserts the nuclear family is finished, and she meets numerous men who awaken her to the sexual revolution. Other vibrant people she encounters include Mike Zwerin, a writer for the Village Voice, and the former owners of the Crystal Palace in St. Louis, Jay and lyricist Fran, arrayed in vintage clothing from Camden Market and acquainted with all the fringe characters in London. Eventually she purchases a tape recorder and a typewriter, and with a few phone calls gets a gig as a researcher for an occult book, then an editor of letters for Penthouse. Her career as a writer on track, Raphael returns to New York, wistful and chastened, with her now Anglicized children in tow, and ready to face her own life.

An elegant, low-keyed memoir of a swinging time.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 2007
ISBN: 1-59051-259-6
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Other Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2006