`Ten years ago, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections presented the archetypal dysfunctional American family. This Is Paradise, Will Eaves's third novel, offers a British counterpart... It's through an array of incidents imbued with striking detail that he manages mercilessly to capture the shifting complexities and rivalries that lie hidden beneath the outwardly mundane dealings of domestic life. This is a novel that should resonate with every contemporary family' --Sunday Times
`Packed with shrewdly observed domestic detail... Eaves writes with great honesty about the inconvenience of death, which has no schedule of its own. He's careful about the brittle comedy of an institution so full of forgetfulness, and to its disconcerting lapses of register... A work of such intelligent understatement... The prose is strongest at its most metaphorically suggestive. As a boy, Clive is "thin as a seed", while a joke has an edge "like razors among toothbrushes". Such language reminds us that family life, for all its mundane chaos, remains dense with potential surprises' --Daily Telegraph (4-star review)
`After two novels much lauded for their acuity and wit, Will Eaves, in This Is Paradise, brings to the surface a subject lurking in these earlier books: the exploration of Englishness and "the Eden of normality" built after the Second World War out of the sacrifice, stoicism and solidarity of preceding generations... Eaves writes with great insight about human interaction... Eaves is excellent, too, on those things common to all family life: the effort to forge collective well-being and the exasperation caused by dissent or non-cooperation... A coda makes for an oddly consoling finale - about the power of art to recast, elucidate and dispel fear' --Times Literary Supplement
`Intricately rendered snapshots of family life through the years... Eaves has a real gift for nuanced observation. The tension between Emily and her growing teenage daughters is conveyed brilliantly.... The best passages are reminiscent of that other unflinching chronicler of family dynamics, Edward St Aubyn... Emily's infirmity is convincingly charted and Eaves is particularly good at conveying the poignant daily routine involved in caring for the elderly' --Observer
`Will Eaves's skill lies in the shift from children to adults... It is a challenge to assemble a cast of six and carry them across several decades; Eaves succeeds triumphantly. Economy is essential, and he does economy with great style, establishing people and situations with cameo scenes and sharp dialogue... This is a family novel in every sense, and the strength of the novel lies in its creation of a narrative in which nothing happens, as it were, except the revelation of family politics, family manoeuvring, family accommodations. The events are those climactic moments of life that lie forever in the mind, each of them summoned up with deft precision... This subtly constructed novel can perhaps be seen as a celebration of family, tempered but ultimately in favour'
`Eaves's writing is so beautiful and extraordinary that mundane events bristle with oddity... Eaves is brilliant about the unspoken conspiracies that bind the average family together. I'm placing bets for some major prizes' --The Times
`It is interesting and heart-warming to watch how this family, with the same old dynamics, struggle with and against each other in a valiant attempt to help and comfort their mother through her dying days. This is the other strong thread, that what is truly heroic in our existence is the ordinary everyday dealing with ordinary everyday life. No applause, awards or accolades, just getting on with it, however unlovely or unlovable.... this wry, warts and all narrative is beautifully written. There is a sense of kitchen sink, fly-on-the-wall documentary that takes the reader straight into the heart of the home. Having laughed and cried with the Alldens we end up loving them, knowing they are people just like us. Complex and many layered, normal and imperfect, doing their best. Just like us' --Red
`Eaves is extremely perceptive about the shifting loyalties, celebrations and recriminations that make up family life'
`This is a novel about ordinary lives that, at times, dips - or perhaps rises - into the extraordinary... What makes the book worth reading is the ease with which Will Eaves soaks the page in [the characters'] personalities, dipping almost at random in and out of their thoughts... The novel works as much by absences and oblique references as by direct statement. That's how families work, after all. All of which might not be quite enough to keep you turning the pages, if it weren't for the sheer joy of some of Eaves's writing... Be charmed for long enough by this delicacy of operation, and you'll end up rewarded with all kinds of depths to the relationships, making connections that you didn't know you were capable of. Anyone put off the family drama of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Freedom by the oppressive shadow of the author, so didactic and manipulative, might well find this an excellent replacement' --Independent
`This is not a family saga in the Joanna Trollope mould - Eaves demands work of his readers, filling in the gaps and drawing conclusions which are not always made plain... Eaves is perceptive about the changing interactions between members of large families over the years, as allegiances and weaknesses alter or remain steady, and much of the Allden dynamic rings true... The novel takes us through 40 years of family life with pathos and insight. To wish some of the gaps had been filled in it perhaps an indication that Eaves has created a set of characters who genuinely pique the curiosity of those who encounter them.'
--Novel of the Week in The Tablet
The Alldens live in a ramshackle house in suburban Bath. Don and Emily have four children: confident Liz, satirical Clive, shy Lotte, and Benjamin, the late arrival. Together they take the usual knocks, go to work, go abroad, go to university, go to pieces. Don and Emily stick it out, their strong marriage tested by experience and frustrated by love for Clive, the ardent boxing fan at odds with himself, their special child. But then ordinary is special, too, as the Alldens will discover thirty years later when Emily falls ill and her children come home to say goodbye. They meet on the poor outskirts of the city in which they grew up, a place where strangers gather and Emily lingers, present but missing, at the still centre of a changing world. This Is Paradise is an unflinching portrayal of the dynamics of family life. The Alldens are wholly recognizable and defiantly unique, close allies and closer adversaries who think they know each other. Their unforgettable story is an intimate record of survival that is tender, funny and ultimately heartbreaking.