I found this book in the library of the Hotel Majestic Palace in Sorrento and quicklyrealised it was the only readable thing there. Actually it was a fantastic find.
Charlie is a diplomat at the Washington Embassy at the start of 1960; he is falling apart through a combination of financial problems, a general world-weariness and depression, and the excessive amounts of alcohol he drinks to keep the blues away. Mary, his wife, falls for Frank, a journalist assigned to cover the Kennedy-Nixon election. As their affair develops she has to choose between her family life with her alcoholic husband and her children (sent to boarding school in England) and her dying mother and grieving father, and the passionate love she feels for Frank.
Faulks handles with brilliance the feel of the age, the children doing A-bomb drill, the jazz, the cold war (and the scenes in Moscow are stupendous). He writes about the experience of the two men in their respective wars, killing for their country, and their meeting in the mess that is Dien Bien Phu. He writes about grief and alcoholism and passionate love and bereavement and boarding school and, best of all, about the futility of existence seen through a depressive's eyes.
I wanted to scream at the end.
This was a wonderful book, my favourite of his that I have read so far. It certainly trumps Birdsong!
August 2009, 335 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57