I enjoyed this book, I really did. And the fact that it's mostly set in my native city of Newcastle upon Tyne (although in a fictional suburb) was a bonus.
But, I'm afraid it requires a good editing. This is ironic as the writer is actually an editor for Faber and Faber. Was someone too shy to advise him it needed cutting down?
David Peace claims it is 'The Great British Novel of this Decade', which is sheer hyperbole; it's nothing of the sort. What it is though is an old-fashioned thumping good read.
You'll know by now that it's main protagonist (Reverend John Gore) is a priest aiming to establish (or 'plant') a new church in a deprived area of Newcastle.
Kelly develops the three other main characters, Lindy, the local unmarried mother Gore falls for, a minor league, hard as nails gangster named Steve Coulson, and Martin Pallister, a lecturer turned Labour MP. He weaves their stories into Gore's life, however, and this is a big failing, he sets up Martin Pallister, spending no small number of pages establishing his back story, to very little effect.
However, I particularly enjoyed the character of local heavy Steve Coulson and his hard upbringing, although someone else has remarked that they found this to be set at soap opera level.
The writing is good throughout and even the young Tony Blair gets to make a cameo performance. And although it's a big book it didn't feel like a chore reading it.
So, I'd recommend this to everyone who likes something meaty. But be aware that the book doesn't have the gravitas to be the epic, profound novel about modern Britain (it's largely set in 1996) that the publishers desperately want it to be.