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Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful account of how the 80s swept away one man's life, 22 Feb. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rumours of a Hurricane (Hardcover)
Nobody loved "The Scent of Dried Roses" and "White City Blue" more than me, so I was eager to read "Rumours of a Hurricane". Ultimately, it was very satisfying, but I am not sure it touches the heights of "Dried Roses".
As you would expect, the razor sharp observations about ordinary life are all there, but, if anything, the first half of the book, set at the start of the Thatcher years, is overstocked with them: the exact list of spirits in the off licence, the bus route home into Fulham. But then, Lott is so brilliant at this that it is hard to quibble. For example, there is one fantastic description of a meal served up for Charlie Buck by his wife, from a recipe in the TV Times: lumberjack pie, with cheddar cheese, Spam, baked beans and instant potato, all for 72p, which really brings home quite how anaesthetised a lot of basic life was circa 1980.
Then as Thatcher's Britain changes, and the Bucks become share holders and home owners, the glue of stability which somehow held their marriage together begins to unravel.
Lott brings great balance to the main couple: Maureen triumphant when she finds she can get away with minor corruption, and liberated in her new ways, and Charlie confused by the changes around him, and finding himself without wife or job, without having changed his behaviour at all.
His fall reminded me a bit of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart", a totally different society, but the same male failure to adapt to change and to go beyond the ideals he established for himself when he was a child.
The middle part of the book, as the changes begin to happen, is very strong, and the end is gripping too, but you can hardly bear to turn the pages as Charlie's suicide, described in a flash forward in the prologue, gets more and more imminent.
Lott's analysis is deeply bleak, but utterly true and believable. The universe he describes is how I don't want it to be but how it probably is, and as such, "Rumours of a Hurricane" is totally compelling.
I felt devastated at the end, but there is no room for puzzlement about why Charlie Buck does what he does. And that makes it all the harder to take.
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