I popped up to Newcastle to see my boys on Wednesday and Thursday and took with me a pre-loaded audiobook to keep me company on the train: 'The Secret Intensity of Ordinary Life' by William Nicholson. When I picked it up the name was familiar and looking on his page I discovered that of course he wrote the Wind on Fire series that we have enjoyed so much over the years.
This book is one of those random stories about a selection of characters, loosely connected by proximity and superficial associations. Laura receives a letter from a former boyfriend, a potential meeting that might have profound consequences. Her husband and children, their teacher, his neighbour, the vicar, the local farmer, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, they seem to have something preoccupying them and making them re-examine their lives. It jumps from person to person over the course of about a week; some people have a minor crisis, some just talk things out, some make new friends, until it all works out quite tidily at the end. Some people I liked, the airing of the problems of the privileged classes sometimes irritates me, I was also a little irritated by the accents that the reader did and it was a touch predictable, but it passed the time pleasantly enough. There were a lot of internal monologues, tracking people's thoughts about their situation, some were more convincing than others. The one thing that really left an impression was the arrival of the post; the book opens with the letter and I am sitting listening feeling my usual irritation with writers. Why, when they go to so much bother to research things in their books, adding real events to place it in context, do they include postmen who live some time in the 1950's. People do not get their post by breakfast time any more, not in the ten years I have been doing the job. Oh well.