An Irresponsible Age’, Lavinia Greenlaw's extraordinary new novel, is set in London in 1990, with Thatcher still in power but the country unwilling to 'abandon an idea just because it proved to be a bad one'. In these hesitant times we follow the life of Juliet Clough and her three siblings, all of them interdependent in a not-quite enviable way, clinging 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. None will admit what they are doing, or why.
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Lavinia Greenlaw is a poet and writer. She is the author of Mary George of Allnorthover.From Publishers Weekly:
Greenlaw's second novel centers on Juliet Clough, a 20-something Londoner grappling with difficult siblings, a complicated romantic life and uncertain health. Things take a turn for the worse when Juliet's brother Tobias is killed in a traffic accident just after a bomb goes off in London. Much of the novel revolves around the family's attempts to cope with Tobias's death. In the murky days of grief, Juliet takes up with famous, much older and married author Jacob Dart. Though her siblings—Fred, Carlo and Clara—do not approve of the match and Juliet suffers from a vaguely explained and painful illness, she pursues the relationship until decamping for a job in Littlefield, Mass. Her life in Littlefield pokes along until Jacob shows up unannounced, wooing her anew. Meanwhile, back in the U.K., Juliet's siblings meander along: Carlo gets serious with his boyfriend; artist Clara's career gets a boost from Jacob's wife; and Fred, an unevenly successful financier, mostly occupies himself with taking care of his siblings. The surfeit of characters and subplots can be difficult to follow, but Greenlaw's prose, line-by-line, is razor-sharp. The book is a clear pick for fans of Penelope Lively and Margaret Drabble. (Jan.)
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