Those of us who have been to university may well remember our excited, optimistic, fresher selves staring up at the gates of our halls of residence, full of anticipation, surveying the entrance to the promised land of opportunity. Here, we believed, was our ticket to knowledge, wisdom, experience and improved life, love and job prospects. It seems that, in this respect at least, the young Adam Morris and his contemporaries were no different to those starry-eyed young things. Through him, in this semi-autobiographical novel (Morris appears to be heavily modelled on Raphael himself), Raphael follows the life, loves and fortunes of a group of Cambridge students from their time at the university in the late 50s/early 60s and beyond into later life. Although after university nothing is ever quite the same again, this is not a novel weighed down by disillusionment and despair (although, naturally, as in life, they do make an appearance). It positively sparkles with wit (particularly in the dialogue where, perhaps, the author's theatrical background shines through) and in many ways reminded me of the writing of Martin Amis, Rachel Papers era. I think, however, that in a number of aspects it may possibly surpass even that particular eminent debut. Raphael is not afraid to confront some of life's grand overarching themes head on, namely: youth, how we handle difference (particularly with anti-semitism and racism in general), politics, the arts, education, love, family life, disillusionment etc. None of these swamp the book, however, and it all flows along nicely. It is sometimes a little difficult to follow owing to the sheer proliferation of characters - remembering who is who can be tricky. However it is never of sufficient difficulty to spoil one's enjoyment of the novel.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?