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Love in Idleness


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About the Author

Amanda Craig is the author of Foreign Bodies, A Private Place, A Vicious Circle, and, most recently, In a Dark Wood. She lives in London and writes regularly for the Times, the Sunday Times, and the New Statesman.


A Midsummer Night's Dream is the basis of this amusing and intelligent novel. When eight adults and three children vacation together in a rented Italian villa, the children discover fairies, and the adults discover truths about themselves as they reunite with old lovers or find themselves changed and ready for new relationships. Character names and descriptions recall the denizens of Shakespeare's comedy: one comical character has big brown eyes, funny tufted ears, and a braying laugh. Using some British characters, some American, and one British Indian, Craig incorporates insights about cultural misconceptions that sharpen and update Shakespeare's comedy of manners. Several of the characters reappear from her earlier novel, In a Dark Wood, and that, combined with references to P.G. Wodehouse, E.M. Forster, and others, gives the reader the sense that there are layers of meaning to be discovered that will repay careful reading. In the end, though, this is a delightful summer read on its own. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Kim Uden Rutter, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-When a group of American and English friends gather at a house in Tuscany for a two-week vacation, they find more than they bargained for. A sophisticated bunch, they are modern royalty of a sort-celebrities in their fields-but they can't seem to jell as a group, and matchmaking efforts fail, too. Married or single, they are all out of step. The three children-two boys and a girl-squabble like any youngsters, but when, in brief but lovely passages, the author reveals something of their consciousness, they become a link to an underlying magic. Running wild in the countryside, they find fairies who give the girl recipes for potions. The children use them to induce the adults to love the right people, but of course these plans go awry. On Midsummer Night, mysterious forces conspire to draw everyone into the woods and keep them all there. Or did they just get lost? Was this really magic, or just the effervescence of discovering life's possibilities in a new setting? This is a bright, amusing story, and for readers who have already succumbed to the charm of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, it will be a special treat. Craig evokes the fey qualities of the well-loved play with many references to characters and situations, and she captures to perfection the quality of a midsummer enchantment.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

In this lighthearted romp, Craig's second novel to be published in the U.S. (after In a Dark Wood), Theo, a successful American businessman residing in London with his wife, Polly, and their son and daughter, Robbie and Tania, rent a house in Tuscany for a two-week vacation. With match-making intentions, they invite seven friends, including an Indian-British divorc?e, Hemani, with a young son, Bron; former model Ellen; three eligible bachelors; and, most formidable of all, Theo's starchy mother. At the end of the first week, Polly is doing all the work, her relationship with Theo is crumbling, the hoped-for romances are not materializing and the three youngsters are fighting with one another. Only the owner of the house, a "W. Shade," is absent. The vacation appears to be a failure, but something of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream haunts the lush forest nearby, especially when Tania, with the advice of sparkle-sized fairy folk, prepares and administers a potion to the adults. The romantic entanglements that ensue might flummox even Shakespeare; one is not between a previously argumentative couple at all, but between two men, one of whom is Theo. Craig is perhaps too leisurely about introducing the quasi-fantasy element, but it works, and when the mysterious W. Shade finally arrives, he is in for a romantic surprise of his own. This is amusing, featherweight stuff, and readers who love to see posh vacationers gamboling about in Italy will eat it up. (July 22) Forecast: Readers who enjoyed In a Dark Wood will recognize the fairy tale overtones here, but Love in Idleness is a much frothier confection and should win Craig a throng of beach-going readers. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"A genuinely clever writer. . . . Craig's secret weapon is charm. . . . A summery divertissement."--The New York Times Book Review "Beguiling, very funny. . . . Craig writes with charm and wit." --The New Yorker "Amanda Craig is a marvelous writer--both playful and graceful, she gives darting sidelong glances into the human heart. Love in Idleness is the perfect summer read. Escapist in the best sense, it suggests that we may need to get lost in order to find ourselves." --Allison Pearson, author of I Don't Know How She Does It "Lush and light ... loving and witty.... A brainy beach book." --Newsday "With slapstick confusion, magic potions, and Shakespearean references galore.... [It] manages to surprise in a way old Will never dreamed of." --Entertainment Weekly "A leaf-light summer frolic of a novel. . . . Craig's bardlike command of the story doesn't waver, and she masterfully conjures the poetic beauty of the Tuscan countryside, making Love in Idleness a perfect read for a summer vacation-or for those in need of one." -Salon

"Sharp dialogue, smart lines, well-timed revelations-all in all, a pleasing, evocative, weightless performance." -The Washington Post

"The magical descriptions of Italy and hilarious observations about love, travel, natives and foreigners in Love in Idleness are but a few of its many pleasures. Amanda Craig has created a hot shimmery climate in which a cast of old friends, quirky family members and naughty children who make love potions come to know themselves and their hearts. A delightful brew." -Jane Hamilton "A social comedy with a hint of magic. . . . An entertaining and good-hearted summer read by someone who knows, and loves, her Shakespeare." -Seattle Times "Sprawling and sweet, Craig traces how romantic, platonic, and familial relationships change over time." -Elle

"As the magic kicks in and the misbehavior begins, it is as if Craig applies a potion to her readers' own eyelids, drawing them into an enchanted dream where her hold over them is complete." -The Observer (London) "Literate, surprising, and funny, Amanda Craig's haphazard houseparty in the Tuscan hills kept me in a midsummer night's dream from the moment the shutters were flung open until all ended well." -Frances Mayes "Carefully plotted, its prose sharp, its characters nicely, sometimes mischievously, observed. . . . Enjoyable and clever." -The Independent (London)

"Craig's creative enough to stray from Shakespeare when the need arises, and her lyrical prose suits the Italian landscapes." -Orlando Sentinel "An absorbing, playful summer read. . . . Craig has a wry affection for her characters, and the novel leaves one feeling Puckish: Lord, what fools these mortals be!" -The Telegraph
(UK) "Amusing and intelligent. . . There are layers of meaning that will repay careful reading. . . . A delightful summer read."-Library Journal (starred) "Charming. . . . Craig, a compassionate and good-tempered fairy godmother waving her wand, presides wisely and kindly over the comedy of errors." -The New Statesman

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