This was my first visit to Hobanville – why it’s taken me so long I don’t know, but I’m keen to go again really soon. Underlying My Tango with Barbara Strozzi is a traditional boy meets girl romance, cleverly told by the two would-be lovers’ voices alternating chapter by chapter, but on top are layers of quirkiness. Just the thing for me then!
Phil is a novelist and newly single. His wife left him because his writing was boring. Bertha Strunk, a painter of glass eyes, is newly separated and is flatsharing with a friend who worships Cliff Richard. Phil has just developed a little obsession with a 17th century Venetian musician and composer Barbara Strozzi when he saw her portrait in a museum, (I wiki’d her and she’s real). Phil’s astrologist predicts interesting conjunctions in his chart, so he ventures out to a tango class in Clerkenwell. Here he meets Bertha who has an uncanny likeness to Barbara, and thus begins a rather unconventional courtship!
This novel is at once tremendous fun, terribly erudite yet geeky (in a nice way), and you always know exactly where you are geographically! It also has an edge, there’s an undercurrent of violence, that will keep you reading breathlessly to see what this couple’s fate will be. At just 162 pages, it can be read in one sitting. A witty, original and eccentric novel and I long for more.