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From The CriticsIn a culture that worships adolescence, this wonderful novel, set in the 1960s, makes being a grown-up seem enviable, stylish, seductive. Mary Van der Linden is the wife of Charlie, a career diplomat stationed in Washington, D.C. At one of the couple's high-spirited parties, a journalist named Frank Renzo stays late discussing jazz with Charlie while surreptitiously glancing at Mary, who in an evening has captivated him. She is the chaste product of affectionate, sensible parents, happy enough in her marriage, yet she succumbs to Frank's passion. Together they experience what is summed up by a phrase that recurs in Faulks' work: the "sweetness and density of life." Their inconvenient liaison leads them to rendezvous in New York in bookstores, jazz clubs and the dim, ratty bars Frank loves. Mary dresses with a care and propriety that are in themselves erotic, so deliberately does she weigh and anticipate her lover's interest. They treat each other gravely, decently, but with an all-consuming hunger to know and be known, which is very like the way Faulks treats his subject matter. This is a joyous book with a glow of pleasure—not merely of sensuality—about two people awake to their lives and offering each other the best that is in them.