The hero of this black farce of a book is Gerald Samper, a ghostwriter to unbearable sports celebrities and rock stars, whose dream is to write the libretto of an opera. After an unsuccessful sojourn in Suffolk that ends in the accidental death of an ancient aristocrat, Gerry returns to Tuscany to the site of his collapsed house, now a place of pilgrimage after the strange apparition of a deceased English princess with great legs. A sinister estate agent smells a chance to make serious money, and Gerry is persuaded to go along with the scam in return for certain favours. Meanwhile, Gerry is motivated to collaborate on an opera about the life of Princess Diana, the not-quite-saint who has inspired such strange devotion. The premiere will be the high point of his life, though not quite in the way he imagines.
James Hamilton-Paterson's work has been translated into many languages. He is a highly acclaimed author of non-fiction books, including Seven-Tenths, Three Miles Down and Playing with Water, as well as America's Boy, a study of Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines. Gerontius, his first novel, won the Whitbread Award, while his most recent, Loving Monsters (2001), was praised by the Sunday Telegraph as 'tantalising, erudite and ingenious'. He lives in Italy.