'Moving and thought-provoking' Literary Review
At eighteen, Paul Porterfield aspires to play the piano at the world's great concert halls. So far the closest he has come has been to turn pages of sheet music for his idol, the dashing, temperamental Richard Kennington, a former piano prodigy on the cusp of middle age.
Months later, while on holiday with his mother in Italy, Paul encounters Richard a second time. Their earlier attraction develops into an intense affair. As the innocence of first love becomes entangled with the quest for a more enduring happiness, Paul comes to realise that he cannot be a page turner all his life and that he has to confront his ambitions.
With artful storytelling, shrewd perception and arch humour, THE PAGE TURNER testifies to the bittersweet truths of strained relationships and the resiliency of the human heart.
This flat novel of music, ambition and love is unfortunately not the enticing work-in-progress by the fictional "David Leavitt" in the far more accomplished and entertaining novella "The Term Paper Artist" (from the collection Arkansas). Eighteen-year-old Paul Porterfield hopes for a career as a classical pianist and is thrilled to achieve his "debut" turning pages for his idol, the vaguely van Cliburn-esque Richard Kennington. This would be the only intersection of their careers were it not for a coincidental encounter later that summer in Rome, where Paul and his philistine mother, Pamela, are on vacation. Mutually infatuated, Paul and Kennington carry on an affair unbeknownst to Pamela (who develops her own crush on Kennington). Kennington abruptly leaves because of an emotional crisis at home in New York (the beloved dachshund of his longtime manager and lover dies), but the summer fling spoils in Manhattan, as Paul (now at Julliard) faces his lack of talent and Kennington cracks under the middle-aged pressures of being a former child prodigy. Neither character's sketchy story, however, has much emotional weight. Only Pamela, one of Leavitt's characteristically strong maternal figures, transcends her stereotype. Her farcically frustrated ambitions barely keep up the tempo in this dubiously titled orchestration of tired themes. Author tour. FYI: Arkansas will be reissued simultaneously in Mariner paperback.