Christopher Burton, the protagonist of Tim Parks' masterful new novel, is one of Britain's foremost foreign correspondents, the acknowledged world expert on Italian affairs. Three months after returning to London with his Italian wife for an extended stay, Burton receives a phone call informing him that his teenage son has committed suicide. Why, upon receiving this terrible news, does he immediately conclude that his marriage of almost thirty years is over? And why is grief so slow in coming? Burton feels his pious, mercurial wife may have given him his life in Italy - even his prestigious career - but she has also made it impossible. Was their troubled son somehow the victim of their long, explosive love-hate relationship? Looking back, Burton sees in his life a web of contradictions, unanswered questions, and confusions. A seamless, beautifully plotted story, Destiny is a profound meditation on marriage and identity, at once romantic and callous. Parks offers us a searing account of what it means to tread the narrow line between sanity and psychosis.
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