This is the first of three (current, I guess) novels about the same set of characters…well educated, initially precocious, young people from Birmingham trying to figure out life in these 1970s England in the middle of the Wilson administration.
The novel focuses primarily on Benjamin Trotter and his sister Lois, whose nephew is telling the story to a new acquaintance, and niece of a more ancillary character in the novel (the ending indicates that her story is forth coming in the second novel). Most of the novel is told through regular third person narration in a more or less straightforward manner, but it also delves into some various extra-text places as the different elements of the narrated lives come together. For example, throughout the novel there’s a constant tension between the boys in the school and their administration and this is often situated in the publication of the school newspaper. We are treated to several editions of the paper in all its horrifying and hilarious glory. This includes a fake series of Letters to the Editor by the father of a fictional student. There’s also a long section in the form of a short story/memoir piece written by Benjamin Trotter of meeting a Holocaust survivor. In addition, the novel ends in a long 30 page section of stream of consciousness.
I liked the novel a lot (although at times it seemed a little much) and I am looking forward to further novels, but not for a bit while I let this one stew a little.