The wonderful Maxine McKew launched my latest novel Nantucket at Melbourne’s Hill of Content bookshop. As witty and incisive as ever, I’ve decided the book is “whatever she says” it is. She’s graciously agreed that I can republish her speech here.
Good evening everyone and welcome to the world of Nantucket. You all know where that is. North West from Portsea – with only a fraction of the social pretensions – but far more dosh.
So much dosh. In Nantucket the men are either billionaires or fantasize about being so .
As for the women they are all beautiful, bright, and possessed of the kind of sex drive that most of us can only remember from when we were 15. In Nantucket everything is a game. A competitive game for alpha males and predatory dames.
Where James Joyce gave us Bloomsday – an action packed twenty four hours in Dublin -Harrison Young breaks new literary ground with a swank east coast summer weekend house-party.
There’s bed-swapping, deal-making, skinny dipping, and cross – cultural plays that are oh so 2015. It’s Downtown Abbey meets Wolf of Wall St with a touch of Bollywood thrown in for good measure. And to think Nantucket was founded by Quakers.
As I immersed myself in the world of Andrew and Lady Rosemary and Shiva and Janis I started to think about our author. We all know Harrison – mild-mannered, possessed of old world courtesies, the former journalist /soldier and banker. He has seen a lot of the world – known paupers and princes, knaves and heroes, and no doubt seen his share of infamy and worse.
And here he is – now well into a new career – sitting down at his screen early each morning – and giving vent to his inner E.L James. Not that there is any overt display of of S and M – but I reckon Lady Rosemary would make a fine dominatrix. She’s described as ‘Venus as head prefect’ – and our Nantucket house host Andrew thinks he has her measure.
Muses Andrew: “perhaps Shiva would give him Rosemary as a ‘deal toy’ – one of those souvenirs that were passed out at closing dinners for major transactions. Andrew had four Mont Blanc pens, three scale models of Boeing airplanes, and five unopened bottles of Dom Perignon in his office. A woman would be much more useful.”
Andrew is a trader. His weekend house party is all about netting a tidy $40 million and if he has to be a little flexible along the way, well who’s going to give a toss? This is what he says about his wife Cathy.
“Maybe he could sell Cathy to Joe. If Joe was interested in bondage, Cathy would be ideal. Their marriage was a form of bondage. But so are many people’s marriages.”
But as we read on it becomes all too apparent that Andrew is a bit of a wuzz. His bosses know it and threaten over the weekend to move him out of his status enriching corner office and into a cupboard. As if that’s not enough to bring him out in a rash – he is outplayed by just about everyone in the space of forty-eight hours. By his best friend the state Governor and would be presidential candidate – (friends and rivals since Harvard days) – by his daughters, by his wife who comes out as a lesbian, and especially by the aforesaid Cambridge educated Rosemary. What a number she is!
Married to the Indian billlionarire prince Shiva, a man with a sense of entitlement that is off the charts – Rosemary’s self definition is spot on – as she says “I need a man who is as selfish as I am.” Rosemary is a woman on the prowl.
She simultaneously arouses and emasculates men. Andrew doesn’t stand a chance.
“It was impossible not to look at her. She could never be possessed, only desired. She accepted observation in the same way Andrew accepted Cathy’s failure to give him as much sex as he wanted. Except that passivity made Rosemary beautiful and it made Andrew deformed.”
Later that night Rosemary makes her play. She waits – naked in the pantry (as you do) – for our hapless host. Andrew – no doubt seeing the expected $40 million going down the gurgler if he makes a wrong move – is nonetheless encouraged by Rosemary’s simple logic.
“Look, it’s three in the morning. Your profession involves sucking up to rich bastards. Wouldn’t it balance things out if we went down to the beach and misbehaved?”
She goes on to explain – “I have an enormous sex drive. I like sleeping with Shiva’s professional advisors. I go after you lawyer and banker chappies because you have a strong interest in keeping the liason a secret. And it’s a way of disrespecting Shiva, fucking his servants. PAUSE …no disrespect to you sweet Andrew.”
Now ….to find out what happens next – you are just going to have to buy Nantucket. Hell, buy half a dozen and give the book to your friends for Xmas.
Not just a perfect Xmas read but the perfect distraction for a world gone mad.
Who isn’t fed up, or scared witless, with a world that seems subject to the mad vaguaries of the likes of Erdogan, Putin, Assad, god knows how many IS insurgents, and let’s not forget old boots on the ground himself – Tony Abbott. Who doesn’t need an escape from this?
So do yourself a favour. Support a local author – the imaginative and engaging Harrison Young – and get lost in the world of Nantucket and a weekend, as Harrison says, of “dazzling improvisation with the violins of reason chasing the cello of desire.”