Thursday, 15 October 2009
Author: Graham Swift
Number of pages: 368
Started: 5 October 2009
Finished: 15 October 2009
"'And don't forget,' my father would say, as if he expected me at any moment to up and leave to seek my fortune in the wide world, 'whatever you learn about people, however bad they turn out, each one of them has a heart, and each one of them was once a tiny baby sucking his mother's milk...'"
First published in 1983, Graham Swift's multilayered chronicle set in the Cambridgeshire Fens is widely regarded as one of the finest British novels of the 1980s. Tom Crick is a history teacher, but the history that absorbs him is his own and his family's. The past, with its secrets and oddities, hangs heavy on him, pushing him towards a heartbreaking new crisis in his life. Swift's powerful psychological drama takes in life and death, betrayal and compassion; his setting, the brooding landscape of the marshy Fens, is utterly compelling.
What I thought:
I had mixed feelings about this book. Overall I enjoyed it, but I found the parts set in the present more compelling than the parts looking back over the history of the fens and his ancestors. I liked the narrator talking about his own life and telling the tales of his ultimate downfall, but other parts I found dragged a bit and whilst I am sure they had great meaning in them, it mainly passed me by. A decent read, but not wholly satisfying.