On Beauty

On Beauty
Zadie Smith
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What are the truly beautiful things in life - and how far will you go to get them? Howard Belsey is an Englishman abroad, an academic teaching in Wellington, a small college town in New England. Married young, thirty years later he is struggling to revive his passion for his African-American wife, Kiki. Meanwhile, his three teenage children - Jerome, Zora and Levi - are each seeking the passions, ideals and commitments that will guide them through their own lives. After Howard has a disastrous affair with a colleague, his sensitive elder son, Jerome, escapes to England for the holidays. In London he defies everything the Belseys represent when he goes to work for Trinidadian right-wing academic and pundit Monty Kipps. Taken in by the Kipps family for the'summer, Jerome falls for Monty's beautiful, capricious daughter, Victoria. But this short-lived romance has long-lasting consequences, drawing these very different families into each other's lives. As Kiki develops a friendship with Mrs Kipps, and Howard and Monty do battle on different sides of the culture war, hot-headed Zora brings a handsome young man from the Boston streets into their midst who'she is determined to draw into the fold of the black middle class - but at what price? Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant look at family life, marriage, the collision of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's self-deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.
Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975, and still lives in the area. She is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty.