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Exposure Paperback – January 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Rich and psychologically astute, British author Stevenson's impressive second novel (after 2004's An Empty Room) refracts the life of an upper-middle-class English family—Alistair Langford, a prominent London lawyer; his devoted wife, Rosalind; and two grown children, Luke and Sophie—through the prism of a single, scandalous affair Alistair has with a witness in one of his cases. The event exposes the intricate web of lies that forms Alistair's life, in particular the flagrant denial of his middle-class past as he pursues success and respectability by virtue of his amazing intellect. The most intricate portrait is that of 28-year-old Luke, an advertising executive who embarks on a torrid affair with a high-strung, beautiful and self-absorbed actress, only to be emotionally devastated when she leaves him. Luke's increasingly desperate ploys to win her back are a key narrative arc, though the main story is Alistair's. A fine writer who paints her scenes with loving detail, Stevenson also depicts her characters' thoughts and insights with an acuity reminiscent of Ian McEwan's recent triumph, Saturday. The increasingly baroque plot threatens to overwhelm the novel, but this is nonetheless the work of a writer to be watched.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Distinguished barrister Alistair Langford has never been one to throw caution to the winds. Since childhood, he has purposefully adhered to a rigid demeanor, setting about achieving his life's mission--the proper home, proper wife, proper career--with a quiet zealousness. How, then, does one explain Alistair's total abandonment of all these lofty ideals when he heedlessly has a sordid one-night stand with a defense witness in a high-profile case he's trying? The scandal, luridly exposed in Britain's infamous tabloid gossip rags, predictably destroys his career and endangers his marriage; and yet the disgrace is oddly liberating, even as it reveals shocking secrets about a past he'd worked so hard to renounce. Along with a complex subplot involving Alistair's ne'er-do-well son, whose own failed love affair sends him into paroxysms of grief and dreams of depraved retribution, Stevenson limns the depths of passion and privacy in a quietly tense cautionary tale that forces her peevish characters to cope with the fallout from their moral ambiguities. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156030446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156030441
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,363,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When Alistair Langford, a respected London barrister, is kneecapped one night after a dinner with friends, the perpetrators are quickly arrested. Questioned by the authorities, the they reveal a sordid dalliance, rending the careful fabric of Alistair's life, his blameless wife and family the beneficiaries of this shameful event. Soon after, Alistair's wife, Rosalind, receives a call that that her husband's mother has died. This call is yet another shock to Rosalind, who was told that Alistair's parents died when he was young. Suddenly, the carefully woven past Langford has assembled falls away and he is forced to account for a history of deception, all in service of hiding a past defined by poverty and a mother's questionable lifestyle. Deeply embarrassed and ashamed, Alistair has come to the moment of truth; whether he can accept his own history and make amends to his wronged wife is another matter, as Langford is a proud and cautious man.

Alistair requests the help of his popular and successful son, Luke, unable to drive himself to Dover to make arrangements for his mother's effects. For his part, Luke, a self-styled clubber, partier and bon vivant, is floundering, recently released from an amorous relationship with a narcissistic actress, Arianne. Luke cannot break free of his obsession with Arianne, positive she will realize her mistake and return to him. Under her spell, Luke's vulnerability is painful to observe; he remains oblivious to Arianne's manipulations, a shadow of the man his friends know. While in Dover with his father, Luke befriends two refugees from Kosovo, Mila and Goran and it is through these characters that Stevenson artfully skewers the pretensions of the middle class, the "egocentric complacency Western money can buy".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pierce Amory on January 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
The plot line of Exposure is aptly summarized elsewhere, so I will not re-summarize it here. Rather I will address some of its strengths and weaknesses, as I see them.
I was thoroughly engrossed by this book. The author involves you in each of the main characters - Alistair, Luke and Rosalind especially - and some of the lesser ones - Goran and Mila - by switching the (often stream-of-consciousness) narrative from one character to another (and back again) as the story progresses. The plot has enough major events to hold most readers' interest. The author engages the reader early on by alluding to the major tragic events in Alistair's and Luke's lives but withholding the details, as well as the underlying reasons for and causes of, these events until midway through the story. She devotes the rest of the book to the events' resolution (or not). It is noteworthy that this 28 year old female writer most successfully inhabits the psyches of two men - one her age and the old enough to be, ....her father - who carry the story line from beginning to end.
Ultimately this book is less about class differences than about the nature of love in all its manifestations - sexual, spousal, maternal, paternal, et. al. The author plays with this subject over and over again throughout the book and succeeds in making the reader care about her characters. Anyone who has lived through the break-up of a passionate liaison will identify with Luke's emotional highs and lows. Alistair provides a much more complex set of emotions that may be harder to grasp, but nonetheless are elaborately realized in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Bender on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Just finished this book. Wow! I need to take a breath. As cliche as it all sounds, a tour de force truly. A keen breath-taking observation of human frailty and strength, of the human condition in all. Screaming with emotion, these characters come ALIVE. Alistair, Rosalind, and Luke... Stevenson captures it beautifully--the beautiful and scary isolation of being a human being in this world, and those ties that bind these solitary entities to the family, that thing that is both their downfall and their salvation. Inherently an optimistic book, the plot centers around the emotional lives of these characters in a way that makes you feel as if you're watching a densely plotted movie even though all that's going on is a severe and gut wrenching process of human awakening. That rare gem of a book... Read it now! Your life will be the better for it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mary on September 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this was a very good, but not excellent, book. it fell short of excellent because i just couldn't love the characters. they were very well developed and they all became more "lovable" as the book went on, but i just never fell for them. and for me, at least one character that i love is necessary to love a book. however, having said that, i would still highly recommend this book as it is beautifully written and very engaging - i found it hard to put down. also, i found some if its central themes very appealing: love is forever; people can change; redemption is possible. i know these sound trite - but ms. stevenson handles them in unique and insightful ways. also, story itself, while not a reinvention of the wheel (many of the plot lines are familiar), is handled in a capable way.
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