There’s so much human shallowness in this story that, if it were less well told, it could seem mere frippery. But Mount keeps us turning the pages with his brilliant evocation of place, his own constant surprise at all these jaw-dropping discoveries, and a quiet underlying sense of the dark consequences of a life in which every little lie leads to a bigger one.
Mount is one of our finest prose stylists and Kiss Myself Goodbye is a witty, moving and beautifully crafted account of one woman’s determination to live to the full. The moral of the tale is that the fabrications of a lifetime will unravel after death, especially if there happens to be an assiduous nephew to hand.
Mount first suspected that Aunt Betty (or Aunt Munca as she asked to be called, after the Beatrix Potter character Hunca Munca) might not be entirely straightforward after a distant relative from Australia accidentally let slip that Betty’s brother, Buster, was actually her son. This discovery inspired Mount to begin a quest that he eventually turned into this book, which is partly a family history and partly a detective novel, with extraordinary revelations dotted through the narrative.