An Education meets The Talented Mr Ripley in dark comic gem of a novel that recreates the grubby glamour of early sixties LondonA BBC Radio Four Book at Bedtime
Jane James knows that she must have been born to better things than a dingy bedroom in her Aunt Doreen's house in Norbury and evenings spent eating gala pie and Heinz tinned potato salad in their 'sitting-cum-dining room'. So, armed with her well-thumbed copy of Lady Be Good, she practises her French turns, her killer smile and precisely how much thigh to show when crossing her legs, and dreams of a time when she can be a part of the world she glimpses through the Mayfair windows of the cashmere shop where she works.When she finds a crocodile handbag left in a pub, it leads her to Suzy St John, a girl-about-town with the glamour, the confidence and the irresistible allure that Jane has been practising for so long. Suzy takes Jane under her wing, and Jane becomes Janey, a near carbon-copy of her new best friend and a delighted adventurer in an easy, sleazy, sixties West-End world of part-time modelling and full-time man-trapping.Her new, improved self catwalks confidently through nightclubs, rag trade showrooms and luxury Mayfair flats but Jane finds that she can never quite drown out the carping voice of her past - or the nagging doubt that there might be slightly more to life than a mutation mink jacket or an engagement ring.When a shocking act of violence threatens to bring Jane's glittering new life crashing down around her she must call on all her powers of reinvention if her dyed-to-match stilettos are to carry her away unscathed.
Louise Levene is a journalist, academic and one-time saleslady. She is currently the ballet critic of the Sunday Telegraph, and used to write and present Radio 4's Newstand among other programmes. She lives in London. A Vision of Loveliness is her first novel.