Once Upon a Time in England, By Helen Walsh
Sunday 26 July 2009
Warrington in the 1970s: Robbie is an Irish singer with a big voice, moderately successful on the club circuit – but not successful enough to give up his job at the factory. He is married to Susheela, a Tamil beauty from Kuala Lumpur; they met when Susheela, a nurse, tended to Robbie when he came to hospital with a broken nose.
Violence is a theme that runs through this novel; the ugliness, brutality and racism of the period are painfully well-realised. The story is written in three main sections, with a time-shift of several years between each, and we witness the gradual disintegration of the marriage, as well as the coming of age of their two sympathetic, talented, damaged and unlucky children, Ellie and Vinnie.
This is a novel about secrets – the disasters that befall this family might have been avoided or mitigated if only they'd talked to each other. But then, Warrington in the 1970s and 1980s was no place for a mixed-race marriage to flourish. The ending isn't happy, but is profoundly moving and artistically satisfying. This novel demonstrates the magic trick that the best fiction pulls off: to make you care deeply about people who don't exist.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 50 books for students to read this summer: From Ernest Hemingway to Gillian Flynn
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Hercules, review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson takes centre stage in preposterous movie
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones Sansa Stark actress Sophie Turner stars in Bastille's 'Oblivion' video
50 Shades of Grey movie trailer declared sexy and sexist on Twitter
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia