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Prominent lawyer Alistair Langford has worked hard to achieve his immense ambitions, but in the course of just one evening he recklessly destroys everything. The scandal threatens his marriage and exposes a secret he has hidden his entire adult life.

Meanwhile, his son Luke, who has led a privileged life but also has worked hard to achieve his own success, has fallen in love with a beautiful actress. When she suddenly leaves him, he plummets ...
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Prominent lawyer Alistair Langford has worked hard to achieve his immense ambitions, but in the course of just one evening he recklessly destroys everything. The scandal threatens his marriage and exposes a secret he has hidden his entire adult life.

Meanwhile, his son Luke, who has led a privileged life but also has worked hard to achieve his own success, has fallen in love with a beautiful actress. When she suddenly leaves him, he plummets into a dangerous depression. His ideals in tatters, he seeks a kind of redemption by taking in two asylum seekers from Kosovo, whose struggles contrast starkly and poignantly with his own.

A deftly plotted, highly suspenseful, and astutely observed morality tale, Exposure explores the dangerous pleasure of offering charity, the effects of deceit and shame on a rigidly complacent family, and the nature of love among family and friends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rich and psychologically astute, British author Stevenson's impressive second novel (after 2004's An Empty Room) refracts the life of an upper-middle-class English family-Alistair Langford, a prominent London lawyer; his devoted wife, Rosalind; and two grown children, Luke and Sophie-through the prism of a single, scandalous affair Alistair has with a witness in one of his cases. The event exposes the intricate web of lies that forms Alistair's life, in particular the flagrant denial of his middle-class past as he pursues success and respectability by virtue of his amazing intellect. The most intricate portrait is that of 28-year-old Luke, an advertising executive who embarks on a torrid affair with a high-strung, beautiful and self-absorbed actress, only to be emotionally devastated when she leaves him. Luke's increasingly desperate ploys to win her back are a key narrative arc, though the main story is Alistair's. A fine writer who paints her scenes with loving detail, Stevenson also depicts her characters' thoughts and insights with an acuity reminiscent of Ian McEwan's recent triumph, Saturday. The increasingly baroque plot threatens to overwhelm the novel, but this is nonetheless the work of a writer to be watched. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
To themselves and others, the Langford family presents a picture of near perfection. Apart from some early episodes of anorexia and depression involving daughter Sophie, they are a family to be envied. Alistair is a successful and respected lawyer; his wife, Rosalind, manages a home-furnishing business while capably tending to her own gracious home; handsome, athletic son Luke is an advertising manager with an expensive flat and a beautiful new girlfriend; and Sophie, now recovered, works as a London journalist. Then a vicious attack on Alistair rocks their comfortable, self-satisfied world. As his carefully constructed past begins to unravel, he puts his career and home life in jeopardy by giving in to temptation offered by a witness in a high-profile case. At the same time, Luke, too, begins to self-destruct when his girlfriend leaves him. What begins as a mystery soon evolves into an affecting drama that will leave readers caring deeply about the ups and downs of the Langfords. From the author of An Empty Room, a Whitebread First Novel Award nominee; highly recommended.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Kingston, Ont. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A barrister at the peak of his powers goes off the tracks, causing a large wreck and multiple injuries. Alistair Langford, the self-made lawyer at the center of this intelligent and perceptive domestic drama from Stevenson (An Empty Room, 2004), could have been something of a hero in America. But it was his luck, if you want to call it that, to be born in England in the forties, near the bottom of the social ladder in Dover, where he lived as the fatherless son of a rather too-relaxed mother whose boardinghouse guests occasionally came around for more than breakfast. Blessed with great brains and drive and the friendship of neighbors Geoff and Ivy, Langford earned a scholarship to Oxford, the opportunity of a lifetime, and never looked back. Borrowing the best speech and manners available from the swells around him and fixing firmly on a career in law, he won first the approval and sponsorship of a great barrister and then the love and hand of Rosalind, a girl much more gently born. And the past in Dover? Done. As far as Rosalind or her snobbish parents knew, his "widowed" mother had died after a life of genteel labor as a translator. And, in that English way that continues to mystify talkative, thoroughly analyzed Americans, the couple built a marriage that never once addressed the difficult past. Then everything comes unglued. Langford is kneecapped in Knightsbridge, bringing to light the one great misdemeanor of his adult life. And Rosalind takes a telephone call from Ivy in Dover announcing the death of a mother-in-law she never knew she had. Stevenson skillfully weaves Alistair's story with that of his gloriously handsome and athletic son Luke, whose recent affair with and rejectionby an actress has brought him quite as low as his father. All the considerable pleasures of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga in modern wrapping.
From the Publisher

"Talitha Stevenson has written a rich, deep and mesmerizing novel that simultaneously projects a sense of casual grace and of inexorability which I am tempted to say is like life itself, except of course that life is seldom lived at such an acute, Jamesian pitch of hyper-awareness, which is why we need novels. Especially novels like Exposure. Stevenson has an incredible talent; she writes like a very old soul, with an exquisitely-tuned Catholic sensitivity to sin, guilt and sexual obsession."—Jay McInerney


"A triumphant read . . . What Stevenson describes with gobsmacking accuracy is our primal fear that life will unceremoniously unravel." - The Independent

"A saga of family dysfunction, rather in the manner of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Justin Cartwright's The Promise of Happiness."- The Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547959399
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/8/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,367,777
  • File size: 472 KB

Meet the Author

TALITHA STEVENSON has written for the Daily Mail and the Guardian. She has lived and studied in Oxford, Florence, and London, where she currently resides. An Empty Room is her first novel.
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