Lettice & Victoria
This roman à clef revolves around the interactions of five main characters. Victoria, barely twenty, finds herself acting as amanuensis to Laurence, an elderly man of letters, now blind, who lives in a ravishing house by the sea in northern Italy. Soon after her arrival, she indulges in a heady night of passion with Edgar, a youthful Englishman. Their subsequent union introduces the mother-in-law from hell in the form of Lettice, who is jealous and suspicious of Victoria's prettiness and her ability to amuse Lettice's intellectual friends. Lettice makes it her goal to ensure that Victoria's new life in England is a misery. Enter Archie, one of the inner circle, whose relationship with Victoria provokes a scandal that threatens to destroy her. Darkly funny and deeply insightful, Lettice & Victoria is not just a love story with a fanciful and flawed female protagonist, but a wonderful portrait of 1950s English society.
'Susanna Johnston is the mistress of what the Surrealists called Black Humour, the queen of deliberate outrage and offensive scandal. Here, she is in top mischievous form. Her characters, real or invented, most often both, will limp out of the pages bleeding, maimed and furious' George Melly
'Johnston is the thinking woman's Evelyn Waugh' Maureen Freely
'A high-spirited romp – tremendously good fun' Spectator