Reading...

Today I bought The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin, another hardback if you please! I bought it on the grounds that it may prove more surprising and fulfilling than the paperback I was going to buy, Zweig's The Post Office Girl, which I had come to feel as though the narrative had become too familiar to warrant buying it and actually reading it, if that makes sense - Cinderalla turned very bleak. I also bought The Street Philosopher because it is set in the years of the Crimean War and also in Victorian Manchester, my area of interest at the moment. It is Plampin's debut novel, and he is an academic specialising in the period, so I have high hopes.

Anyway, I wanted to post a full review of Zoe Heller's The Believers which in many ways is a simple read in the way that Notes on a Scandal was, by that I mean it is written very clearly, almost in a Yatesian manner, and which I also read as a masterclass in pacing and structure. Each family member's life unfolds slowly but surely and with just enough exposition and I came to care about each of the characters, especially the weighty put-upon daughter, Karla. I also loved the matriarchal character - Audrey - whose psychology was brilliant - brittle and forever biting heads off because of her own failures to have achieved anything except leave a crappy little typing job in Camden forty years before, when she married the 'brilliant' radical US lawyer, Joel Litvinoff, which some would say is achievement enough - for a working-class woman! I will no doubt turn to it again and glean a fuller review in due course.

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