What happens when a worldly, vigorous, successful married man discovers that he is dying, and immediately embarks on a new love affair of awesome depth and force? And how is it possible that his commitment to his wife and children can remain absolutely unbroken all the while? Only a writer of outstanding skill could handle these questions with consistent seriousness, and without evasion or sentimentality. Yet Tom Stacey is not merely equal to the challenge: through the almost intolerable situation which he has created, he swiftly leads his central character, and the reader, to confront the tragedy and wonder at the heart of human love. This achievement on its own would confirm him as a writer of the highest calibre. But further evidence includes the presence of a likeable narrator – an old friend and doctor – whose half-chosen loneliness is increasingly questioned by events; the deft reality of a setting in London and Paris; and the enigmatic yet vital figure of an aged poet- priest who alone can finally draw the strands together. The Living and the Dying is far more than a classic double love story: it is a novel of rare quality, beauty and power.
‘It is in the central character that Tom Stacey has put the mechanism that elevates this novel to the master class’ – Irish Times
‘Tom Stacey’s second novel is uncommonly confident about love and death. Published 16 years after his first, its maturing has been worth waiting for: the orderly writing, robust intelligence and honesty are steadily enlivening’ – The Times