Synopses & Reviews
"A highly entertaining, vivid evocation of love and marriage." The New York Times Book Review
Its been decades since Nick cast off his impossible, contentious, embarrassingly working-class parents: gruff, stingy, explosive Ken, and Pearl, who seemed to revert to a primal state of nature after a divorce that both of them managed to blame on Nick. Enjoying the life of the country gentleman that hes made for himself with impeccably turned-out Astrid and her daughter, Laura, Nick has kept only the slenderest connection to his brother, Dave, whos stuck with the role of ambassador in a family thats long settled into cold war.
Then Ken decides that the year of his death has arrived, and kicks off an ill-conceived quest to reunite his family before he meets his fate. Bringing to this tinderbox the park it needs, Louise Dean, award-winning author of Becoming Strangers and several more acclaimed novels, sends up the whole clan, each of them fatally flawed, yet saved by hidden grace, and illuminates their clashes of generation, gender, class, and temperament, in a riotous, compassionate, and truly memorable family saga.
"Dean's very British fourth novel (after The Idea of Love) is a grimly hilarious family saga in which an old curmudgeon faces his mortality. Ken Goodyew, a working-class bloke who believes he is at the end of his life, sets out to settle his affairs. Spewing vitriol in every direction, he calls upon his social-climbing son, Gary--now known as Nick, a dapper country gentleman--and Nick's hapless little brother, Dave, first to help him spurn his second wife, the unnervingly thrifty June, and then to find the boys' mother, Pearl. Ken also spends a good chunk of time shadowing undertaker Audrey as she fetches, dresses, and embalms bodies, in order to come to some conclusion about the right way to die. But after June's out of the picture and Pearl is found--hospitalized--Ken's desire to make sense of things profoundly affects his sons, leading to a denouement that perfectly balances humor and poignancy. Dean, with her superb ear for language and class nuance, gives readers the essence of contemporary British life in this touching and funny family portrait. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A highly entertaining, vivid evocation of love and marriage" (The New York Times Book Review)
It's been decades since Nick cast off his divorced, contentious, embarrassingly working-class parents, leaving the role of ambassador to his brother Dave. But then Nick's father decides that the year of his death has arrived, kicking off an ill-conceived quest to reunite his family. Bringing to this tinderbox just the spark it needs, Louise Dean sends up the whole clan, each of them flawed and saved by hidden grace, and illuminates their clashes of generation, gender, class, and temperament in a riotuous and compassionate conflagration.
About the Author
Louise Dean is the author of three previous novels: Becoming Strangers, which was awarded the Betty Trask Prize in 2004 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, This Human Season and The Idea of Love. She lives in Kent, England with her three children.