By Tina Jordan
Updated February 23, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

In her latest, a British family drama set along splintered class lines at a decaying seaside resort, Dean explores the relationships between Nick, a Cambridge-educated divorce attorney; his unctuous brother, Dave; and their father, Ken, a working-class lug who’s developed a death obsession in his old age, choosing the lining for his coffin and even having an affair with the embalmer at the local funeral home. There’s not much in the way of plot in The Old Romantic, but Dean’s razor-sharp observations, coupled with her very real affection for her characters, make the pages fly. A?

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