Washington Square, Feb 2004, 13.00, 288 pp.
Once called the Museum of English History, director Dr. Auberon Booth changed the name to BRIT and pushed a PR campaign through exhibits that would catch the attention of the media and subsequently the public. Auberon hopes that his jazzed up exhibitions with twenty-first century sound bite titles like "Slums" will bring in visitors and subsequently upgrade his reputation. He might even get a curator to remain beyond a cup of tea.
His current show, "Elegance," focuses on a Gainsborough portrait of Lady St. John dressed as Puck owned by wealthy Chairman of the Board of Trustees Sir Lewis Burslem. Lending his masterpiece is Sir Lewis's ticket to leave this second rate museum when he gets a seat on the National Gallery board. Sir Lewis and Auberon expect perfection, but alas Murphy proves that the law is not just an American phenomenon as the embattled Director tries to keep peace, sanity, and an exhibit from collapse when everything that could goes wrong does.
Giles Waterfield's amusing satire bruises pretentiousness, over valued self importance, and unchecked ambition that would make Lady Macbeth envious. The humorous story line takes no prisoners as the soulless ambitious without ethics crowd is blistered. The besieged hero serves as the center of this tale as he ironically keeps the plot from imploding even while he feels the universe big crunch started with him. Fans of Swift-like satire will laugh out loud while placing associates (never one's self of course) as secondary know it all characters supporting THE HOUND IN THE LEFT HAND CORNER.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner