Virginia is an actor; she does not want this ordinary mess: she wants things formed in rehearsal, choreographed, with all the rough contingency of the everyday made good, no nagging doubt that we, our performance, could have been better. It is, in the end, performance: the love affair, the joke in the pub, the final, cutting, remark in an argument.
Dan upends it by dying inconveniently. She wants Dan to be dead and she wants him back. “What should I do,” she thinks, and she goes to the pub and out into the living world for drinks and dinner and work. And all this is a fine performance. Until she meets Hank.
Alan Smith, with a long list of books behind him, including How to be a Man and Her Majesty’s Philosophers, is a master of dialogue who paints his characters with their own words drawing the reader into their stories, their anguish and their joy.