An Irresponsible Age

Overview


Set in London in 1990, with Thatcher still in power, Juliet Clough and her three
interdependent siblings, cling together after the death of a brother and the retreat of their grieving parents. When Juliet, the focus of them all, is drawn into a complex love affair with the enigmatic Jacob, the others, too, find themselves falling in love, and then evading the consequences.
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An Irresponsible Age

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Overview


Set in London in 1990, with Thatcher still in power, Juliet Clough and her three
interdependent siblings, cling together after the death of a brother and the retreat of their grieving parents. When Juliet, the focus of them all, is drawn into a complex love affair with the enigmatic Jacob, the others, too, find themselves falling in love, and then evading the consequences.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"There's more than a whiff of Cold Comfort Farm hanging over this elegant novel."  —Daily Mail

"An engrossing and thought-provoking read."  —Sunday Telegraph

"A subtle and intriguing novel."  —Observer

"A terrific book, a meteorological force in its own right . . . absorbing and beautifully observed."  —Evening Standard

"Made plausible by the brilliance of the writing . . . Greenlaw superbly brings to life her characters' inner life and their perceptions of their world."  —Financial Times

"A piece of ice in the eye, chilling and disturbing, a beautiful portrait of ordinary unhappiness at its best."  —Irish Times

"Gifted with a sharp eye for detail and a fine sensibility to verbal nuance and patterning, Greenlaw has already established herself as a significant force in British poetry. This new novel seems certain to confirm her developing reputation as a writer of lively, intelligent and well-crafted fiction."  —Guardian

Kirkus Reviews
In a novel first published in the U.K. in 2006, Greenlaw (Mary George of Allnorthover, 2001, etc.) tries to shed light on the complicated Clough family-with mixed results. Tobias Clough did not die during a '90s bombing in London. He died afterwards in a traffic accident, ramming his motorcycle into the back of a car after police stopped traffic because of the threat of another explosion. The book examines Tobias's death and its impact on his family, especially siblings Carlo (a doctor), Fred (a banker), Clara (an artist) and Juliet (an art historian). The author turns Carlo's identification of the body into a ballet of words, and she captures both her native London, as well as small-town New England (Juliet escapes for a year to teach at a tiny college), in lush detail. Yet all that crafting often goes to waste. The book is supposed to be a coming-of-age story, with the Clough family and Tobias's widow Mary overcoming his death and coming into their own-particularly Juliet, the book's focus. But Juliet's muddled love affair with charming and elusive author Jacob Dart doesn't propel her to a new level of, well, anything. Nor does Clara's longing for Jacob, whose portrait she paints for his estranged wife. Even Fred, who buys a house and nearly gets the girl of his dreams, fails to blossom. Which makes a conversation Jacob and Juliet have near the beginning of the novel all the more ironic. She attacks Jacob's widely read book Foucault's Egg for lacking real meaning. Outside of being a meandering and lyrical dissertation on how different people grieve, Greenlaw's novel suffers from the same thing. The prose may be beautiful, but the story is not compelling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007156306
  • Publisher: HarperCollins UK
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lavinia Greenlaw has published three books of poems, including Minsk, which was shortlisted for the Forward, T.S. Eliot, and Whitbread poetry awards. She is also the author of the novel Mary George of Allnorthover.

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