Odyssey Editions

What price perfection?

David is an American investment banker living in London; Elizabeth, his wife, is a woman of peerless beauty and refinement. They have two children; their marriage seems perfect. Why does she want him to retire and move home to America? One summer evening, David, alone in their empty mansion, receives a phone call from a long-lost friend. So begins a tale about friendship, marriage, and betrayal that is filled with unexpected reversals.

Canarino is a portrait of intimate relationships set in a world of privilege and achievement. Its characters possess personal gifts in dazzling abundance, yet their appetites to succeed, to be exceptional, tempt them to risk everything. What is the cost for the heart of seeking perfection?

In Katherine Bucknell’s first novel, beauty and passion are stalked by desolation. Like the drink of the title—boiling water over a twist of lemon peel—the prose has a sharp, delicate clarity. Beneath its polished surface lie psychological depths both uncanny and haunting. Canarino is a novel that lingers in the mind, a remarkable debut.


The best first novel I've read this year...notable for its skillful design and exceptionally good prose. —Frank Kermode, The Times Literary Supplement

Canarino is a book I wish I could have written ... brilliantly observed. Each detail is vivid: objects, people, and places are all sketched so precisely ... as clear, sharp and sophisticated as you would expect from the title. —Alexandra Shulman, Observer Books of the Year

A coolly passionate study of a failing marriage with a memorable superbitch Jamesian hero. —Blake Morrison, Guardian First Novel of the Year

[A] remarkably vigorous and subtle first novel... The plotting is bold and alluring...The characters are vividly realised, forensically examined... The writing throughout is spare and punctilious: the narrative tension increases almost unbearably towards the end. —Sue Gaisford, Independent on Sunday

Diamond-cut prose prises open a sham society marriage. —Tatler

A sharp, pacily written examination of a marriage in slow motion freefall. — Time Out

An artistic triumph. — Sunday Telegraph

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About the author

Katherine Bucknell is the author of four novels, Canarino, Leninsky Prospekt, What You Will, and, most recently, +1. She is currently at work on a biography of Christopher Isherwood. She is the editor of his Diaries (in four volumes) and The Animals, letters between Isherwood and his partner, Don Bachardy. She also edited W.H. Auden's Juvenilia: Poems 1922-1928. She has degrees from Princeton, Oxford and Columbia Universities. Born in Saigon and raised in Washington, D.C., she now lives in London with her husband, Bob Maguire, and their three children.

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Additional Information

Odyssey Editions
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Published on
Nov 1, 2013
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Fiction / General
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