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Poor Eustace is not very well. Convalescing in bed, a victim of the coughs and hiccups that rack his frail body, his world is confined to the four spare walls of his grand and gloomy room, in a tall house in London. His days are spent in wild imaginings, punctuated by the occasional visit from his mother, from prune-faced Mrs Perichief, who serves an unvarying menu of watery soup, and from a legion of cannibalistic Aunties, who fuss and smother poor Eustace with their bosoms and kisses.
Relief comes from the odd behaviour and antics of his wicked uncle who is soon a regular fixture in Eustace's bedroom, emerging from under the bed in a cloud of pipe smoke, accompanied by a swelling cast of prostitutes, hoodlums, drunkards and assorted hangers-on - a raucous party which seems in no danger of stopping. Eustace finds himself transformed from invalid to the star of a glittering and decadent social scene, serving drinks, offering assistance and holding court from his enormous bed. That is, until his Uncle's past begins to catch up with him...
A graphic novel vividly capturing a lonely and interior world, as well as the heady and tumultuous milieu of affluent London between the wars, Eustace is a blackly comic, surreal and exquisitely rendered work - and an assured debut.
Jonathan Cape, paperback, 280 pages, published March 2013