This is an extraordinary book, about what it is to be alive. Ford's sheer level of skill in using the language is a delight; reading "Independence Day" will make you love words for themselves and where they can take you. The action occupies little more than a weekend, but encompasses an epic spiritual journey, told with pace, humour, and the razor-sharp observations of people, places and emotions. Everything about the narrator, Frank, his interior life and his external world, is touchably, touchingly real, and draws you inexorably into the novel from the very first page. The suburban setting and the ordinariness of [most of] the events makes Ford's handling of abstract ideas and huge issues of life, love and belief, utterly compelling and deeply moving.
Ford's most striking - and unusual - achievement in "Independence Day" is the astonishing compassion with which he treats characters, story and theme. There are no grotesques, no stereotypes, no over-simplifications; the author takes no intellectual, emotional or linguistic shortcuts. This is a rich book, honest, entertaining, satisfying, and ultimately profoundly optimistic. Don't be put off by the length!