Intimate and disconcerting, compelling and comic, an anatomy of the way things are, South of the River is the big British novel for our times - and a tour de force.
It opens on the 'new dawn' of Labour's election victory in 1997, and ends five years later. But this is not so much 'state of the nation' as state of our souls, marriages, families, hopes and careers - a sharp and sexy portrait of a dysfunctional group of characters, all different yet connected. There's Nat, failed dramatist and reluctant lecturer, falling for a younger woman; Anthea, an eco-friendly lost soul obesessed with foxes; Libby, hardworking mother and advertising executive, the family breadwinner; Harry, Nat's friend and ex-pupil, a journalist on a local paper, with a guilty secret of his own; and Jack, Nat's blimpish but unexpectedly poignant uncle, who lives for fox-hunting, and runs a failing engineering company in East Anglia.
Beneath the bright familiar world of Blair's Britain, there's a dark undertow of political and personal disillusion, of mythologies and urban myths that circle round our apparently comfortable lives. South of the River, a tale of five people, two rivers, and many Englands, metropolitan and rural, black and white, is gloriously readable and brimming with art and life.
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