A deceptively lighthearted fourth novel by the late cult favorite McMahon (1943–99; Loving Little Egypt, 1986, etc.) depicts a forlorn husband’s tragicomic quest to reclaim his AWOL wife.
A shy, private soul, Ira Foxglove is a Boston inventor who recently created a miracle textile known as Feather Fabric and is now working on an artificial heart—a project perhaps suggested to him by the massive coronary he suffered a year ago and hasn’t fully recovered from. Unable to work and denied his favorite vices (cigars and rich food), Ira has sunk so far into depression that on the blackest days he can barely summon the energy to call his doctor. It got so bad that his wife Portia finally moved (without much by way of explanation) to London. With Portia in England and daughter Henley studying mime in Paris, Ira has little to live for in Boston, so he prevails upon his wealthy friend Neptune to take him to Europe on his next business trip—something easily arranged, since Neptune has just bought himself a blimp from Goodyear and is in the mood to get away. So the two set off and, after a brief fishing vacation in Iceland, descend in England a few days later. Ira’s initial reunion with Portia is a bit strained (thanks mainly to her disagreeable, jealous—and male—Hindu roommate), but, pressing on to Paris, he consoles himself with Henley and her arty crowd, who welcome him as a fellow eccentric and even put him in some of their productions. One, a young American named Peaches, manages to seduce Ira and, in the process, give him an idea that helps him complete his plans for the artificial heart. That, in turn, gets him his wife back. You'll have to connect the dots yourself.
Reminiscent of the best of Walker Percy: a deeply funny, strange, moving account of middle-aged angst overcome by genius, sympathy, and profound naiveté.