In Review

The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson: a tale of ‘eroticism, absurdity and pathos’

Mendelson observes the minutiae of human behaviour like a comic anthropologist

Charlotte Mendelson’s “riotous, prize-winning novels” tend to be about messy, dysfunctional families, said Leyla Sanai in The Spectator. Her fifth centres on a “monstrous” artist named Ray Hanrahan and his downtrodden wife, Lucia. Narcissistic, abusive and controlling, Ray has “quashed” Lucia’s own artistic ambitions for decades, forcing her to minister to his needs and look after their (now grown-up) children.

With an “ostentatious private view” of his work about to open, he has summoned friends and family to their north London house. The result is a “glorious ride” of a novel – one in which “Mendelson observes the minutiae of human behaviour like a comic anthropologist”.

There is a lot going on in this novel – “at times, too much” – but the overall “effect is exhilarating”, said Susie Mesure in The Times. Moving between perspectives, Mendelson cranks the drama up to a “fiery climax”.

There’s a “hint of HBO’s Succession” in this tale of a “family in thrall to a despotic patriarch”, said Madeleine Feeny in The Daily Telegraph. Mingling “eroticism, absurdity and pathos”, it’s “electric”.

Mantle 336pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99

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