I have been listening to 'The man who disappeared' by Clare Morrall while knitting, cooking, painting and sitting around with Dunk. There was a rather lovely interview with her here in the Guardian just recently. It was engaging enough that when I got back from work today Dunk demanded that we have the last CD because it had been too late to finish listening last night.
It is the story of Felix's unexpected disappearance, and his family's reaction to and recovery from their abrupt change of fortunes. Learning that he is wanted by the police for money laundering his wife Kate and the children are forced to rebuild their life from scratch over the months with no explanation for what has happened and assuming he may even be dead. Meanwhile Felix creates a fake life and hides there and muses on what he has been forced to give up. I didn't really feel sorry for him. I didn't really feel sorry for the family either, a bunch of upper middle class twits who have wanted for nothing and suddenly had to live like the rest of us. The characters behave in slightly peculiar ways and I often was left bemused by their decisions. Why would a person of strict integrity behave as Felix did, the grounds are just too flimsy. His weird aunts were a bit of a bad cliché. I was not sure about the daughter and her stalking of an older girl, and she was a spoilt brat. The young son was not very convincing and Kate herself was just a bit ineffectual. The reaction of her parents was strangely awful and unsympathetic. But the story grew on me because it is about family bonds and resilience and once you have spent a few hours you can't help but start wondering if they are going to manage to pull themselves back together, though the ending as it approached was very predictable.
It was an amusing distraction while decorating in the bedroom but I can't say it was a great book; if I had been reading I would probably have abandoned it. Her book 'Astonishing Splashes of Colour' was shortlisted for the Booker, so she must be capable of decent writing, perhaps this was just not a very good example.