James and Katherine meet at a wedding in London in 2006, towards the end of the money-for-nothing years. James is a man with a varied past now living alone in a flat in Bloomsbury; Katherine is separated from her husband and working in an interim job in a luxury hotel. They exchange phone numbers at the wedding, but from then on not much goes according to the script...
If you've ever wondered what two people were thinking when they became a couple, wonder no more. Award-winning British novelist Szalay (London and the South-East) parses a romantic relationship with exquisite and excruciating attention to subterranean emotions. James, whose entrepreneurial streak caused him to skip university and, with money from a food franchise, make his mark in the film business, rode the dot-com boom to its inevitable failure. He now depends on a horseracing scheme to bolster his once palatial, currently more ordinary, lifestyle. Katherine works at a posh hotel where she intends to learn the ropes and open her own establishment, and is rebounding from an unsatisfying marriage to a cheating husband. After meeting at a wedding, they begin a relationship rife with incredible awkwardness, missed signals, and misinterpretations as well as dazzling promise their sexual relationship marked with similar highs and lows. Szalay's insights into the perspectives of both sexes illuminate the complexity and fragility of romantic coupling. His knowing eye and exacting prose ("Their weekend together had been pared down to the pathetic rind of Sunday evening") bring perspicacity to the complications of love.