Starting in 1970s, The Northern Clemency focuses on the lives of two families, the Sellers, and the Glovers. When Mr Sellers’ job takes him and his family from London to Sheffield, they move into house opposite the Glovers’, in a superior suburb on the outskirts of the city.
Even before the Sellers arrive in Rayfield Avenue, we are taken behind that community’s lace curtains and smiling party faces to witness Mr and Mrs Glover’s marital crisis, the sexual escapades of their eldest son Daniel, the literary aspirations of 14 year old daughter Jane and the obsessions of ten year old Tim.
We move through the Abigail’s Party themed 1970s, meeting money laundering florist Nick and Daniel Glover’s and Sandra Sellers’ teenage friends en route, to the early manoeuvres in the miners’ strike and the start of Jane Glover’s London career in the 1980s. The novel ends in the late 1990s, with both sets of parents still living in their respective houses on Rayfield Avenue, and their offspring having – eventually – flown their nests.
It’s a hefty tome but with beautiful period detail throughout, The Northern Clemency is well worth the read.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Northern Clemency – Philip Hensher