Lurking somewhere inside this precious, overwritten first novel by British writer Nye is a comic short story struggling to breathe free. Gary Strang and Dermot Povey share a flat, but their quaint domesticity is shattered when coy, blase Deborah moves in upstairs. Both men fall desperately in love with her, though it's hard to see why, since all she seems to want is a man with lots of money and a "nice bottom." Their landlady, Geraldine, has just been deserted by her husband Gerald who once painted Deborah when she modeled nude in his art class. When Mike, Deborah's violent ex-boyfriend, breaks Gary's arm, the chatty surface tone turns serious. With its menage of slightly dotty folks at their wits' ends, the story has comic possibilities, none of them exploited by Nye. Or perhaps it's that his humor has not survived a transatlantic sea-change.
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