Charlie van der Linden, a dejected career man with the British embassy in a Washington abuzz with the rise of Sen. John Kennedy in 1960, drinks too much because he has seen too much. His wife, Mary, is the picture of the dutiful English bride. Yet with her children at boarding school, something is missing. She takes an American lover, a journalist and veteran haunted by memories of Guadalcanal who needs Mary to feel whole again. Charlie, too, sees her as his best chance for redemption.
If the love affair feels flat, fans of Faulks—whose Charlotte Gray has just been released as a film—will find plenty of period atmosphere on which to hang their snap-brimmed fedoras. (Random House, $24.95)
Bottom Line: Cold War love triangle needs more warmth