South of the River (2 stars)

Blake Morrison

South of the River (Chatto & Windus)


It is really quite apt that South of the River opens with New Labour’s landslide election win in 1997, because the subsequent disappointment many felt at the party’s antics is reflected in Blake Morrison’s frustrating latest work of fiction. The subject matter is certainly interesting, containing personal and political events and emotions many of us can connect with. However, the award-winning author of such works as When Did You Last See Your Father? and As If soon clouds it with overly wordy and often unnecessary descriptions, clumsy metaphors and contrived sections of political commentary.

And there’s really no excuse for such tediously predictable characters as fox-hunting fanatic Jack, failed writer Nat, his hotshot advertising executive wife Libby and eco-warrior Anthea, all connected but unhappy in different ways. It’s a shame, because with some major tweaking this could have been a compelling and timely read, but as it is you probably won’t make it past the first few chapters.

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