Paul lives in the Welsh countryside with his wife Elise, and their two young children. Over in London, Cora plans to move back to Cardiff, to the house she has inherited from her parents. She is escaping her marriage, and the constrictions and disappointments of her life. Connecting them is the London train, and a chance meeting that will have immediate and far-reaching consequences for both Paul and for Cora.
©2011 Tessa Hadley (P)2011 WF Howes Ltd
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"Suburban homesick blues"
A name first picked up from The New Yorker, I was also drawn to the fact that the blurb says that the narrative is based in Cardiff and the protagonists Welsh and the fact that this is currently being followed up by a new publication - Clever Girl.
This is not a Welsh novel, however, and Cardiff functions best as a suburban backdrop to essentially London pre-occupations - house renovations with a view to sale, reclaimed bricks, fire-places and bathrooms, husbands who are ‘fairly senior in the Civil Service,‘ lovers who review books in The Guardian. A throw-away line about Peacocks - emporium of the common man - and an oblique reference to Roath Park don’t flesh out or colour contemporary Cardiff and whilst there are several engaging asides about Religion, the nature of death, how the Militant Tendency regarded ordinary working class members of the Labour Party, the narrative progresses in a workman-like manner centred around a curmudgeonly female who ornaments the later part of this created world with nothing more than a type.
On the fateful day when a pair of underpants become a cloth for washing the car and when there are no poems to be paid to review and no buyers for your paintings Peacocks is the only place to shop - quality takes second place to price and for day-to-day use that’s perfectly acceptable in this disposable world. But beyond the disposable, what we reach for is deeper meaning, real poetry, real characters and a real world. Not found in Peacocks and not found in this book, unfortunately.
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