Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Books & Art 2005 - II

Anthem by Tim Binding (Book 13): Bought in a bargain store in Greenwich because how can I resist a solid hardback!?

This is the story of four neighbouring families living in Anglefield Road, small town England, in the times of the Falkland war and before. The before is the separation of a young boy Henry Armstrong being separated from his mother during a day trip to London in the last great fog of 1952. Henry grows up and as a bandsman in the Royal Marines bound for the Falklands, finds his life is still overshadowed by the fact that he has still not found his mum.

Thirty years later, in the year of the Falkland war, shoe salesman Richard Roach (coinicidently Henry's childhood friend), finds he is being ousted out of his company by a younger man who is also having an affair with his wife. He is at war with his teenage son, is haunted by his childhood mistakes and things get truly miserable before he deicides to make any changes. His neighbour Freddie Millen is eternally obliged to his brighter, richer brother and remains obsessed with lawns, both causing a huge strain in his marriage. Their neighbours Matty and Suzanne Plimsoll are crew members on the liner Canberra which is requisitioned for the war. While Matty jumps ship at the last minute Suzanne escapes her marriage and stepdaughter by volunteering to accompany the liner as it transports troops to the Falklands. The Plimsolls are next door to the Armstrongs who are missing a son (you know who) and still struggling with their loss all these years later by buying notebooks like the one he had on him when he was lost.

The story is beautifully told and Tim Binding weaves hope well into the intertwining lives of ordinary people in the face of loss, war, ambition and struggles.

Definitely a bookshelf keeper.

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