SCEPTRE, £14.99. ORDER FOR £13.99 (FREE P&P) FROM 0870 079 8897
The Morning Rides Behind Us by Tariq Goddard
Give this rumbustious tale a wartime heroes' welcome
Wednesday 07 September 2005
Ex-Harrow and a professional alcoholic, Shallow enlisted in a haze of misplaced patriotism after a binge - and survives. In Tariq Goddard's novel, Remembrance Sunday 1946 finds him imbibing heroic quantities with his demobbed squad at a wake for Moat, their psychotic pal whose inability to cope with the frustrating mundanity of peacetime leads him to ride his motorbike into a tree.
Most of T Squadron resentfully work in the New Forest village of Grumwood's chocolate factory. Its owner, Oliver Dawson, docks pay for all attending Moat's funeral. Dawson squirmed out of active service but now lords it over Grumwood, despising his feckless workforce and demanding respect for the lucre he amassed through wartime profiteering.
He snatched unhappy Lou Polly as a bride while her former lover, Terry Delaney, was serving in France: "Face it, Terence, the no-good scrubber's upgraded." Delaney's comrades sympathise, but Lou's awkward position as the working-class "town bicycle" married to the new money quickly becomes symptomatic of the unease simmering throughout Goddard's superbly rumbustious third novel.
Over three alcohol-fuelled days, The Morning Rides Behind Us dramatises the sharp disjuncture between the emotionally cauterised military men and a civil society tolerating them with little respect and no decent employment.
The knives are out for Dawson, who hides his physical cowardice behind aggressive rants. Surprisingly, he makes an appealingly odious little tyrant, only able to relax when persecuting somebody. He attracts the venom of Vivien Ross, "Lucky" Jack's widow and the tartly spoken daughter of Lord Ross. Delaney takes insolent retribution against Dawson for docking his comrades' pay, a petty action that steadily escalates into a village-wide brouhaha.
The denouement is satisfyingly inevitable, but this exuberant narrative turns on the fresh possibility of tenderness. Goddard sacrifices fussy period idiom to narrative energy in this enjoyably comic but powerful tale, which poignantly chafes its reckless, emasculated heroes against the civil restraints of peacetime.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
James Bond Spectre trailer drops on YouTube
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
Kay Burley 'bias' against Ed Miliband prompts 130 complaints to Ofcom
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder