From the initial break in London, to the crisis in Athens, to trying and failing to patch things up in Amsterdam Allegra traverses the continent to the accompaniment of a Late Romantic soundtrack (plus Vangelis via Nigel Havers). When not sending emails to a BDSM obsessed catfish, or wondering whether a piece of Nazi jewellery might “lift one of my more sombre evening gowns,” she attempts to ease her conscience by volunteering at a refugee centre known for its Syrian cuisine, yet remains oblivious to the numerous other personal and political disasters that are looming. Shocking, camp-and shockingly camp-My Other Spruce and Maple Self is nevertheless a profoundly sad book about a woman unable to come to terms with her own declining status, as well as that of the West. 256pp
The author was brought up in Nottingham and has now returned here to live.