Apparently this novel was first released in 1993 but is being given a second crack at success. And rightfully so.
This is an intelligent story within a story – Susan is a middle-aged housewife who lives in her second husband Arnold’s shadow. She receives a manuscript from her ex-husband Edward and the reader gets to enjoy Edward’s novel along with Susan’s reactions to the narrative. The reader also is privy to the resurgence of Susan’s memories which are provoked by Edward’s sudden reappearance in her life. Susan has barely heard from Edward in 20 years but his letter, asking her to read his novel, provokes a dearth of memories of him and his desperation to be a writer. She doubts the novel will be any good but what we were treated to is a gripping thriller that keeps the reader guessing. In his novel, Nocturnal Animals, Edward writes of right and wrong, retribution and revenge.
The reader can compare their own critique of Edward’s novel with Susan’s, as well as feeling her quiet desperation at dreams lost and suburban life. As both stories progress, we also get to learn about Susan and Edward’s back story while she examines the life choices she made.
Nocturnal Animals itself is a great thriller but I was disappointed with the last third of the book although Susan didn’t seem to notice, despite admitting she was often over-critical of Edward’s writing during their marriage. Nocturnal Animals was written with such tension that I was expecting a big reveal or twist at the end which I never got so that was a disappointment and I have to admit I expected a confession or an unusual outcome but it never happened. Although, I daresay that was the point.
Tony and Susan is a great read and justifies Atlantic’s decision to reissue it.