Louise Dean - The Old Romantic (2 stars)

Louise Dean - The Old Romantic

(Fig Tree)

There’s plenty of mileage to be had, both in terms of pathos and comedy, from the subject matter of death. Sadly, this tepid novel fails to capitalise on its dark premise, being neither moving nor funny, despite trying for both. Ken is an old man living in Kent, who is obsessed with his own death and planning his funeral, to the extent that he even helps out at the local undertakers. He’s curmudgeonly, divorced once and heading for a second one, and estranged from his son Nick.

There is another son, Dave, who is so tedious and clichéd a character he makes your head throb. In fact, The Old Romantic is full of wafer-thin stereotypes, from reinvented Nick to his miserable father and all points in between. Louise Dean is clearly aiming for something insightful about modern families and their dysfunction, but she misses the mark by a long way.

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