I have previously read and reviewed Neil Saunders' first publication, Al Qaeda Broke my Suitcase and other short stories, a collection which I enjoyed immensely. I was therefore looking forward to reading his first novel, Are We All Having a Lovely Time?. Both publications have a great cover, which I think immediately appeals to the reader.
Set on a cruise ship with a small cast of characters Are We All Having a Lovely Time? has strong political themes, both British and international, a similarity that can be drawn with Saunders' first publication. The characters discuss Montenegro, former Yugoslavia and Serbia; the European Union; "the first cruise holidays available to ordinary people were provided by Hitler".
Another strong theme is education, and everything that falls under that from being good at sports to bullying to the state of the education system and how funding is raised for schools. Ben Cashew, the main character in the book, bullied Rhys at school which led to Rhys' suicide. Until the drunken séance he hasn't given Rhys a second thought. But by reconnecting, both characters stand to change and maybe gain something.
Saunders' second publication doesn't disappoint. The writing flows well and the characters are believable. As an author Saunders has a strong voice and writes convincingly on subjects he is clearly passionate about. Are We All Having a Lovely Time? is a good read.