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Stylistically, the book seems to be trying on different modes of narrative, as if to ask, which one suits me?Natalie is the book’s most engrossing character, and her section (the book’s final third) comprises the text’s most compelling narrative.
In’ speaking in Tongues’ a recent address given by Zadie Smith in New York, in part concerned with the election of Barack Obama as President, Smith identifies and locates herself in terms of accent and class, thereby exhibiting, as she admits in this essay, a characteristically English obsession.
Smith notes that she left university with a changed ‘posher’ accent adopted so that she might feel confident about being regarded by others as intellectually credible.
I picked it up in college, along with the unabridged Clarissa and a taste for port.
Ultimately, Natalie’s story suggests a certain type of domestic tragedy, as her internal struggles propel her toward wayward behavior—in this case, comic internet-arranged sex romps.
Her husband finds out her secret, and the book ends as he begins to pull away from her emotionally. After her husband confronts her, Natalie embarks on an all-night bender with Nathan Bogle, a shadow character who attended school with Leah and Natalie, and now is a neighborhood addict.