Valerie Martin - The Confessions of Edward Day
- Doug Johnstone
- 24 August 2009
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Valerie Martin has had great success as a purveyor of historical fiction, most notably with Mary Reilly, her retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde myth, and her Orange Prize-winning American slavery tale Property. This outing into the theatre world of 1970s New York in the form of a fictional memoir is less successful, however. Any such memoir stands or falls on the qualities of its narrator, and there is something vacuous at the heart of Edward Day which leaves the reader none the wiser by the end.
Giving us a conventional love triangle between actors Edward, Madeleine and Guy – who saves Edward’s life early on – Martin plays the story for laughs and raises the odd chuckle, but the foppish and narcissistic world the trio live in strips the story of empathy. When the drama does come, it feels forced, making you wish Guy had left Edward to drown at the start, saving us all the bother.