In a stunning follow-up to his much-heralded masterpiece, Kalooki Nights, acclaimed author Howard Jacobson has turned his mordant and uncanny sights on Felix Quinn, a rare-book dealer living in London, whose wife Marisa is unfaithful to him.
All husbands, Felix maintains, secretly want their wives to be unfaithful to them. Felix hasn't always thought this way. From the moment of his first boyhood rejection, surviving the shattering effects of love and jealousy had been the study of his life. But while he is honeymooning with Marisa in Florida an event occurs that changes everything. In a moment, he goes from dreading the thought of someone else's hands on the woman he loves to thinking about nothing else. Enter Marius into Marisa's affections. And now Felix must wonder if he really is a happy man.
The Act of Love is a haunting novel of love and jealousy, with stylish prose that crackles and razor-sharp dialogue, praised by the London Times as "darkly transgressive, as savage in its brilliance, as anything Jacobson has written." It is a startlingly perceptive, subtle portrait of a marriage and an excruciatingly honest, provocative exploration of sexual obsession.
In his naughtily erudite 10th novel, British author Jacobson (Kalooki Nights) explores the nature of the erotic with a wicked twist. Narrator Felix Quinn, a fusty antiquarian bookseller in contemporary London, wants to cuckold himself in order to "save his marriage" and give himself the freedom to be jealous. The unwitting but willing participant in Felix's scheme, Marius, is a libertine without scruples: he first appears in the tale some years previously, letching after two underage girls while attending the funeral of a man whose wife he had seduced. As for Felix's wife, Marisa, she embraces the infidelity foisted on her with gusto, relishing her thrice-weekly assignations and, after much persuasion, titillating her curious husband with details of their intimacies. Though Felix's narration is disconcertingly mannered, he's remarkably honest and blisteringly funny, while Jacobson's prose is sharp as ever, loaded with spiky dialogue and wonderfully arch observations.