The method he's adopted to write about Master Betty is to adopt his voice. Indeed, he may be said to have become Betty, because every word seems so genuine, so heartfelt and so accurate that it's easy to imagine that this is a memoir by the actor. As a child star he was also known as The Young Roscius. He played Hamlet (and many other rôles) at a very young age and then fell out of favour. In 1806, Master Betty (now to be called Mister Betty, as he has to tell everyone he meets) returns to Bath, six years after his last starry appearance. "I am six years older now, ten inches taller.....Should my name spark a recollection,; my figure swiftly dispels it..."
We learn along the way about Betty's family, and his rise to fame. We see details of the huge acclaim that greeted his every appearance. William Pitt, the Prime Minister, came to see him perform and Betty was the toast of the town in every way. I make a point of providing no spoilers so I won't say more about the plot, but there is one, even in a book as short as this and which is so carefully based on the historical record.
Arditti's huge achievement is tuning in to the authentic voice of his protagonist, narrator and star. I am completely convinced that this is exactly how Betty spoke and how he would write. In the days when I used to visit schools, I sometimes told the children that writing novels was like having a huge dressing-up box at my disposal and that I was allowed to put on the costumes and pretend to be whatever I felt like being: a fat black cat or a retired ballerina or....anyone at all. Arditti has clearly enjoyed inhabiting the 18th century and he is fluent in its language and preoccupations.