A Scandalous Man, By Gavin Esler
Sunday 09 November 2008
From his foreign news journalism alone, I expected far better from Esler than this perfunctory political father-versus-son tale. It's spring 2005, and translator Harry Burnett's estranged father has just made what appears to be a suicide attempt. Why they have become estranged is drawn out through the flashbacks of Robin Burnett's parallel narrative from 1982, when he was in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet until scandal forced him to resign.
Esler has drawn on his own experience when constructing scenes between Burnett senior and diplomats from foreign governments, and as a result those do have an air of authenticity. But his style is flat and clunky throughout. ("It was the day on which Leila Rajar was preparing to telephone Robin Burnett to tell him that she was pregnant. She was also going to tell him that their relationship was over, knowing that it would make him very unhappy.") I also hated the very. Short. Sentences. And the clichés about Margaret Thatcher (feminine but masculine, too, etc, etc).
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader