King of the Badgers – Philip Hensher

A slow read.

Set in a fictional Devon seaside town, King of the Badgers starts with the abduction of a local girl with echoes of Shannon Matthews, and ends with her release. In between we follow the lives of, amongst others, London escapees/retirees, snobbish middle class academics living beyond their means, and the open and hidden the gay scene on sea. link: King of the Badgers – Philip Hensher

The Northern Clemency – Philip Hensher

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. link: The Northern Clemency – Philip Hensher

The Mulberry Empire – Philip Hensher

The first of the current spree of historical novel borrowing from Battersea Library, but this book has been on my To Read list (and Amazon wishlist) since I read the reviews when it came out.

A weighty tome, and slow going required as it shifts focus, characters and location, but by the time I completed it by end of March 2003 I felt I’d learned a lot about early Victorian Empire, and Central Asian kingdoms of the time.

Verdict: Haddock Review

Buy it: Amazon link