Vintage, Paperback, 9780345803887, 304pp.
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
A deft and impressive debut novel—a dark hyper-comedy—set in London in the late 1990s during the height of the newspaper wars just before the dot-com tidal wave.
Honor Tait, a legendary prize-winning war correspondent (called in her day "The Newsroom Dietrich" because of her luminescent beauty) is now in her eighties and looking back at a career that saw her on the front lines and in the foxholes of every major theater of war in the twentieth century. Tamara Sim, a young feature writer who compiles lists (what's in/what's out, ten best/ten worst) for a newspaper gossip magazine, is sent to interview the venerated "doyenne of British journalists" for a well-respected publication. What starts out as a tango of wills and egos turns into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse as secrets are revealed, lies unearthed, and one paper plays off the other in a ruthless, desperate grab for sensation and circulation.
“[McAfee] writes with poise and polish, using her reportorial eye to create a fictional world that feels like a fun-house mirror of journalism from the late ‘90s…that could not be more timely. . . . A blackly comic, Waugh-esque portrait of a newspaper.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A dark, sparkly gem of a book: smart, knowing, funny, tragic: Miss Havisham meets Sex and the City. I don’t know how Annalena McAfee pulled off such a balancing act, but I very much hope she goes on writing novels of this quality. A stunner.” —Christopher Buckley
"An acid satire of London newspaperdom . . . . Spiky, vivid, and almost pathologically clever.” —Entertainment Weekly
“McAfee skewers the Fourth Estate with an insider’s insight, cutting wit and razor-sharp writing.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Funny, fast-paced. . . . As the drama ramps up into a race to the presses, the decadence and cynicism of a sunset industry is revealed.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“A witty and entertaining debut about two very different worlds of journalism.” —The Guardian (London)
“Richly comic and entertaining.” —Tatler
“A wonderfully entertaining comedy of manners about the dying days of Fleet Street and the cult of celebrity . . . A clever, literary romp with flashes of Nancy Mitford and Helen Fielding . . . A darkly, deliciously witty read.” —The Independent on Sunday
“Masterly. . . A striking and accomplished novel.” —London Evening Standard
“Brilliant . . . It grips from the first with verbal polish and razor-sharp satire.” —Mail on Sunday
“Wily, insightful and engaging . . . McAfee has an excellent eye for detail and a wry comic touch . . . The Spoiler has a cracking plot, alive with twists and turns and meaning.” —The Times (London)
“Extremely funny and sharply observed.” —The Independent (London)
“Marvelously entertaining . . . McAfee’s novel is irresistible.” —Glasgow Herald