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Being lost in a place you know by heart is one of life's most disconcerting feelings - a wry, warm and insightful novel of life, love and loneliness
'She writes with such a generous eye about love, loneliness and artistic ambition' Jess Walter
Bennett Driscoll is a Turner Prize nominated artist who was a Bright Young Thing. Now, aged 55, his wife has left him, the reviews have dried up, and his gallery wants to stop selling his paintings, saying they'll have more value retrospectively...when he's dead. So, left with a large West London home and no income, he moves into his painting studio in the back garden and rents out the house, soon reaching status as a Super Host on AirBed.
At last, the money is coming in, but he's loveless and, well, lonely. Turns out his house guests are as quirky, lost and entertaining as Bennett himself, unwittingly unlocking the parts of Bennett's life that have been forgotten to him for too long, but can they help him feel less lost in the place he knows best?
Wry, rueful and rich in observation, SUPER HOST provides a delicious portrait of middle-age, marriage, and the underlying fears and loneliness that colour so many lives.
'Super Host is pure delight - smart, fun, poignant, and deeply satisfying. I loved it' Lily King
Russo follows the travails of a divorced London painter turned apartment host in her witty, enjoyable debut. At 55, Bennett Driscoll's paintings are no longer fashionable, and his career and private life have been derailed. To make ends meet his gallery's director says she'll represent him again after he's dead Bennett rents out his large suburban London house on AirBed, an Airbnb-like site, and sleeps in his studio. He once scoured the Guardian for reviews of his work; now he reads reviews of his hosting and relishes his long-coveted AirBed status as Super Host while processing his recent divorce and trying to connect with his 18-year-old daughter. Russo is good at portraying female characters, particularly a series of tenants whose stories structure the novel, and who each make an impact on Bennett. There's Alicia, a young American woman; Emma, an artist who rents the house with her husband; and Kirstie, an unhappy, failed hotelier. Russo plumbs the depths of her characters' cynicism, which has taught them that men are indecisive and women remain primarily objects of sexual interest, and that to be a successful artist one needs to keep producing what sells. Russo is a formidable talent, and readers will be eager to see what she does next.