Linda Grant - Upstairs at the Party
Compelling tale of lifelong fascination and obsession
It’s the early 1970s and a glamorous androgynous couple known as Evie / Stevie appear on campus. To students experimenting with radical ideas, the pair symbolise all that lies in the future, until tragedy intervenes. For Adele, Evie becomes a lifelong obsession, but it is only later in life, when examining the events of the past, that Adele finally comes to understand her.
Upstairs at the Party is a haunting novel full of characters that disappear only to reappear somewhat changed later on. It explores the unsettled nature of life itself, of the changes and compromises, of the lies and concealments that we all are complicit in. Grant is excellent at portraying how small betrayals, not only between friends, lovers and family but also the betrayal of ideas from youth, can have far reaching consequences for the person you become.
Evie herself, however, often feels like a distraction; it is Adele that the reader is most interested in and enthralled by. Her selfishness, her lies, her moral ambiguity and her ruthless storytelling are compelling right to the very last page.