A Deep Vein of Melancholy,
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This review is from: Motherland (Kindle Edition)
Having loved The Secret Intensity, I was delighted to see this Nicholson novel as a Kindle daily deal and promptly snapped it up. While not quite living up to earlier novel, it is still an excellent read, providing that you're not given to bouts of depression, in which case it may aggravate them.
Initially it seems to be the story of beautiful Kitty, loved by every man she meets, and dashing Ed, the war hero; but really it is the story of Larry, ordinary decent bloke, who also loves Kitty and longs to spurn the family banana import business in favour of being a painter.
It begins in 1942 as the three meet when they are all stationed on the south coast, proceeds through the disastrous Dieppe raid (which was new to me and hard to read about as hundreds of young men were sacrificed to the vanity of their leaders), through the struggles of post war England and Larry's traumatic trip to India with Mountbatten to preside over independence and partition, concluding in 1950 with tragedy. There is a completely pointless but mercifully short framing device and some excruciating sex scenes that should have been up for the Literary Review's Bad Sex Award.
It's elegantly written (apart from those sex scenes) and Larry is a deeply sympathetic character whose trials and tribulations can provoke only compassion and, eventually, hope. The minor players are interesting, from Nell, the pretentious artist's model, via Geraldine the frigid wife; from Larry's loving and nurturing father to Pamela, the precocious but charming child.
I don't know if Nicholson is a Catholic but all the main characters are and an element of Catholic guilt and fear pervades the novel. It left me feeling a little sad but lingers in my mind even after the last page.