From the back of the book; –
‘South of the River’ opens on the new dawn of Labour’s election victory in 1997, and ends five years later. But this is not so much ‘state of the nation’ as state of our souls, marriages, families, hopes and careers – a sharp and sexy portrait of a dysfunctional group of characters, all different yet connected. There’s Nat, a failed dramatist, falling for a younger woman; Anthea, an eco-friendly lost soul obsessed with foxes; Libby, hardworking mother and advertising executive; Harry, Nat’s friend and ex-pupil, a journalist with a guilty secret of his own; and Jack, Nat’s unexpectedly poignant uncle, who lives for fox-hunting. Intimate and disconcerting, compelling and comic, an anatomy of the way things are, ‘South of the River’ is the big British novel for our times – and a tour de force.
This is an epic novel over 550 pages of small print. It’s taken ages to read. At the start it was difficult to juggle the main characters Libby, Nat, Anthea, Harry and Jack and retain the information about them and their lives, however this becomes easier as you go on. Their stories (and they are almost individual stories) are set in the early Blair years and a theme of foxes reverberates through the pages, not just fox hunting but foxy fairy stories are included. The main characters do relate eventually, some more tenuously than others. The main characters lives are explored in great detail and that is what I appreciated most about the book. My favourite was family and work juggling advertising executive Libby married to the very annoying self absorbed lazy Nat.
The novel is well written, intricate with lots of sex including a very odd tale within a tale of a couple stuck together after copulation!
The book rolls along gently and finishes gently. The characters and the writing make you want to continue find out what happens. Not to be recomended for those who like action packed novels. I really enjoyed it.