Ask Alice (Hardback)D. J. Taylor
Hardback Published: 02/04/2009
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In 1904, a pretty young woman travels apprehensively across the American prairies; on a whim she makes a bold decision, grabbing her future with both hands. A lonely little boy, growing up a world away between-stairs in an Edwardian country house, has his future decided for him by impending war and an old woman who parcels him off to her eccentric brother in the flatlands of Norfolk. Later, in the brightly coloured world of late 1920s London high life, Alice Keach is queen among society hostesses. Behind her lie a marriage to a wealthy landowner, and a career as a celebrated actress. But Alice has a secret, whose roots run five thousand miles away to that Kansas train-ride, and a chain of connection with the potential to blow her comfortable existence apart. A half-hearted blackmailer making his way across the Atlantic; a watchful teenage boy observing the birth of a lucrative new colour in a Norfolk pigpen; a bright young woman coming to terms with an unsatisfactory marriage; a country house party that ends in tragedy; and, a sensational murder trial - all these are gathered up in the story of Alice's rise and fall. Ranging from the Dakota badlands to the drawing rooms of Mayfair, and from the Norfolk back lanes to the casting couches of the Edwardian theatre, "Ask Alice" is a remarkable novel that confirms D.J. Taylor as a novelist of scope, imagination and great writing.