Kath Trevelyan, a 72-year-old widow with 3 grown daughters and 5 grandchildren, “intends to remain alive until the moment she dies.” She lives at Parsonage Farm, in the foothills of the Kingsways in Somerset, England, and spends part of each day in her workshop with an ancient Albion printing press–“her joy.” After years of “contented widowhood,” Kath unexpectedly begins to enjoy the companionship of her neighbor, John Garsington, a retired art dealer 14 years her junior. Over tea or wine they carry on esoteric discussions of British illustrators and engravers and literature they mutually admire; their day trips are embellished with dollops of local British history. Alongside Kath and John’s burgeoning relationship, Cooper makes astute observations on the generational interplay between both Kath and her middle daughter, Esther, a frequent visitor, and John and his distressingly pompous and emotionally detached mother. Interjected with thoughts on the meaning of art, the often fragile artistic psyche, and the conundrum of aging, Cooper’s engaging third novel challenges the intellect in diverse ways.
The Alpine Fantasy of Victor B and Other Stories brings together seventeen of Britain’s leading contemporary artists in one collection. Moving, humorous, and sometimes deeply macabre, these stories deal with dementia, mortality, mass murder, and madness. The Alpine Fantasy of Victor B and Other Stories is a haunting exploration of the impulses that drive today’s artists.
This is first of all a raw, heart-breakingly personal story, hard-hitting, urgently and unflinchingly written, that happens to have important things to say about the treatment of rape in our society. Be warned, there is no feel-good ending. But the despairing if finally ambiguous closing pages, leave you, like good fiction should, with more questions than answers. You won’t forget this one in a hurry.