I'm finding it quite hard to extract myself from the world of Georgette Heyer at the moment; it's a comforting place to be - and in real life I ought to dust, and still have drain problems (consent has been given to have the floorboards up, but no sign of a date for that yet) and work isn't much fun either.
Because retiring to bed for a week with a pile of old romances isn't on the cards I thought reading something entirely different might be a good idea. Graham Greene is an author I've meant to read forever but never quite got to. 'Dr Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party' is a long title for a novella, and I have no idea of how typical it is of Greene, but it turned out to be a good place to really start with him.
I'm fairly sure I bought this book because it was short, it's definitely what appealed to me about it when I picked it up last night (that and it had worked to the top of a pile). First published in 1980 it's late Greene, and it has a grotesque, gothic, air about it.
The narrator, a man in his 50's, meets, falls in love with, and marries, a girl in her 20's. She's the daughter of toothpaste millionaire Dr Fischer, who since the death of his wife has amused himself by tormenting a select group of wealthy friends. His aim is to see how deeply they will humiliate themselves in the pursuit of the extravagant gifts he gives them.
Anna-Luise, Dr Fischer's daughter, calls these friends the toads, and is happy leave her fathers house behind her. He in turn has no apparent interest in his daughter, but is keen to use her new husband as a fresh way of humiliating his toads.
It's an odd little book, it focuses on grief, greed, love, and hate - but mostly I think on grief and greed and maybe a little on the different rules that govern the very rich. Dr Fischer is a horror, but only because others allow him to be by acquiescing to his demands. As he keeps pointing out, nobody needs to play his games. They all have more than enough money to buy their own toys.
I'm fairly certain that I'd picked up some of Greene's books before and not got very far (Our Man in Havana' rings a bell), this book has convinced me to try again, and try a little harder if I find my attention wondering.