This brilliant novel by Alice Thomas Ellis reaffirms her richly deserved reputation as one of England's wittiest, wisest novelists. This is a marvelously amiable, funny, sharp-edged story about love, passion, and friendship; about family relationships and the stories we weave into the fabric of our heart's desire.
When the middle-aged, respectable, and rather bored Claudia falls in love with her handsome stepson, Philip, it MUST be comedy, though to her it is deep, bewildering passion. Her friend and neighbor Sylvie,long since cured of love, has little sympathy or advice for her - or indeed for her husband (and Philip's father), Charles, who also arrives seeking consolation.
Into this tangled web comes Sylvie's daughter, Evvie, who is enthusiastically writing a pulp romantic novel based on the local Scottish vet, his pet cow Violet, and his strange menage of relatives. Blurring the not altogether firm line she draws between her fictional world and the real one, Evvie involves Claudia in her creative endeavors, and Claudia, eager to disguise her improper passion, goes along with the game. And one cannot leave out Gloria, Sylvie's dog, who has a decidedly human air and whose views must also be taken into account.
Soon the plot of Miss Ellis's witty, astringent novel overlaps and collides with Evvie's pulpish one; and in a climactic, bacchanalian Halloween party, illusions are shattered, painful yet oddly reassuring truths are revealed, and the lives of these affecting men and women resume their course. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FIRE is a splendidly human, wickedly comic, heartfelt novel that will delight enthusiasts for Miss Ellis's art.
The above is from the dust jacket.