An intimate portrait of London intellectual life, the breakdown of a marriage and the friendship between two women, ‘What You Will’ draws the reader into a spellbinding world of beauty and tension.
Gwen, an American painter, lives in London with her English husband, Lawrence, an Oxford don. When Gwen’s friend Hilary arrives from New York bruised by a broken engagement, a lost job and an unsuitable love affair, Gwen is determined to find her someone to marry. But will he be another Oxford intellectual, a member of London's bohemia, or a professional from the scandal-ridden New York museum world?
But with Gwen’s arrival the bonds of friendship, love, and marriage are severely tested. Pressure builds in the household, affecting Gwen and Lawrence’s small son as he struggles to engage with the sophistication and savagery around him.
Tackling deep and unsetttling questions – Are we slaves to our impulses or to one another? Is it possible to have both love and freedom? Can the artist or the intellectual illuminate such questions?, ‘What You Will’ is a subtly wrought, multi-layered, and hypnotically suspenseful tale about how we handle our most intimate relationships.
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Praise for ‘What You Will’:
'Bucknell takes her time in order to immerse us in her characters' lives and thoughts. This is the book's chief strength and source of pleasure: its luxuriant, almost sensuous appreciation of the intellect. You don't get too many books like that these days; we're almost in Iris Murdoch or Saul Bellow territory here. There is a succession of quite delicious twists which show that Bucknell isn't afraid of being a good old–fashioned entertainer as well as a thoughtful one.’
'Bucknell's erudite prose relies on a close attention to her characters' thoughts' The Observer
'”What You Will” contains some beautifully realised passages.'
‘A dense, layered portrait of three people’s interlocking relations.’ Sylvia Brownrigg, TLS
‘A playfully serious novel with thoughts and ideas exploding like a storm of confetti.’ Sarah Dunant, Saturday GuardianAbout the Author:
Katherine Bucknell was born in Saigon and grew up in Washington, D.C. She is a literary scholar and the editor of ‘Juvenilia: Poems 1922-1928’ by W.H. Auden and of ‘Diaries Volume One, 1939-1960’ and ‘Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951’ both by Christopher Isherwood. Her novels are ‘Canarino’, ‘Leninsky Prospekt’, and ‘What You Will’. She lives in London with her husband and their three children.
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