Most helpful positive review
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2009
I should confess to being a bit of a fan of Cartwright's and particularly of his last novel, the Song Before it is Sung. But while that was an audacious historical novel set around 30s Oxford and the Stauffenberg plot, a glance at the back cover of his new book showed a far less ambitious novel fixated on domestic London life. I wasn't sure what to expect...
But in a way, it's the everyday setting that makes it all the greater an achievement. A smaller canvas, maybe, but there are no tricks and conceits to carry the writing along - it has to survive line by line without dramatic historical events to help it on its way. And Cartwright is masterful at it. He is one of those writers whom one reads while constantly thinking aloud to oneself: how can he know this about people - about relationships - about life? How can he be so perceptive? There's a wisdom to the writing, often manifested in a beautiful and sometimes deceptively simple turn of phrase, that gets to immediately to the point: be it describing Gordon Brown perfectly in three words, or explaining the guilt one might feel after the death of a loved one. It seems to me the most emotionally charged of his novels and it also includes, which i wasn't expecting, some jaw-droppingly dramatic moments which really keep the pages turning.
In summary, a wonderful book that I will treasure.
One last thing: I heard the first episode of it being read on Radio 4 last night and Bill Nighy is perfect as the narrator.