This slow burn of a story is subtle, elegiac, gentle, and contemplative. The underlying tension and elegance of the interwoven stories about two sedate disappointing lives carries what is ultimately a novel of memories, misunderstandings and ambling musings to a surprising and fascinating denouement.
'Same again?' asks the question mark, moving along the bar towards her. His breath smells of strong coffee. She looks at him, and at the clock, and nods. She leads the way to the lift and they travel up with the cleaning trolley.
She does not take him to her room, will not have him lying on Bernard's side of the bed, lying naked where Bernard sleeps, with his head on the camphor-scented pillow. ...
Ester, on the other side of the bed, undresses slowly in the bright room while he watches her. When the pieces of her clothing lie around her like the dropped petals of a half-dead rose, she climbs onto the bed.