Thus Bad Begins
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Award-winning author Javier Marías examines a household living in unhappy the shadow of history, and explores the cruel, tender punishments we exact on those we love
As a young man, Juan de Vere takes a job that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Eduardo Muriel is a famous film director - urbane, discreet, irreproachable - an irresistible idol to a young man. Muriel's wife Beatriz is a soft, ripe woman who slips through her husband's home like an unwanted ghost, finding solace in other beds. And on the periphery of all their lives stands Dr Jorge Van Vechten, a shadowy family friend implicated in unsavoury rumours that Muriel cannot bear to pursue himself - rumours he asks Juan to investigate instead. But as Juan draws closer to the truth, he uncovers more questions, ones his employer has not asked and would rather not answer. Why does Muriel hate Beatriz? How did Beatriz meet Van Vechten? And what happened during the war?
As Juan learns more about his employers, he begins to understand the conflicting pulls of desire, power and guilt that govern their lives - and his own. Marias presents a study of the infinitely permeable boundaries between private and public selves, between observer and participant, between the deceptions we suffer from others and those we enact upon ourselves.
'No one else, anywhere, is writing quite like this' Daily Telegraph on The Infatuations