by Charles Lambert
Aardvark Bureau. 390 pages, $15.95
IN CHARLES LAMBERT’S latest novel, Prodigal, the mother of protagonist Jeremy Eldritch is reading Sybille Bedford’s ironically titled novel A Favourite of the Gods, in which one of the characters exclaims: “Oh, shall we never escape the muddling consequences of our family history?” This question might well be posed by any of Lambert’s major characters, for Prodigal explores the toxic relationships within the Eldritch family: Jeremy, his sister Rachel, and their divorced mother and father, Vanessa and Reginald.
The novel opens in the summer of 2012 when the middle-aged Jeremy, the gay prodigal son who has been living in Paris and writing soft-core porn for the past 35 years, returns to the family home in the seaside town of Whitstable, Kent, to be present at the death of his father. His mother died in Greece in 1985, and he lost his first lover to AIDS in the early 1980s. Death hovers over this powerful novel.
Nils Clausson is emeritus professor of English at the University of Regina (Canada).