‘Most of us have only one story to tell. I don’t mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there’s only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.’
In a staid suburb fifteen miles south of London in the sixties Paul, nineteen, home from university for the holidays, is urged by his mother to join the tennis club. At the mixed doubles tournament he is partnered with a Mrs Macleod. She is forty-eight, confident, ironic. Her first name is Susan; she is married with two grown-up daughters. Soon Paul and Susan are lovers.
In The Only Story Paul looks back at how they fell in love, how he freed her from a sterile marriage, how they set up together, and how, very slowly, everything fell apart as Susan sank into alcoholism, and love turned into pity and anger.
This is a profound – and achingly sad – novel about love by one of fiction’s greatest mappers of the human heart and its vagaries.
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