Still surprised by the negative reviews this got at the time
Sebastian Faulks very much changed his time-and-space territory with this 2002 published book, and certainly received quite a lot of thumbs down reviews for it, perhaps in abandoning the battle torn territory of France during the First and Second world war.
Personally, I found the cultural shift to America, at the time John F Kennedy was first elected as President, as fascinating and well handled by Faulks as his earlier forays.
In this book, his main characters inhabit the world of journalism/diplomacy and are very much caught up in political fears, doubts and approaches in a mainly Establishment political milieu.
Against this, or more properly entwined with this is a love story with 3 people. He very precisely shows how we all live through history, and are affected by history, whether we acknowledge it or not, and how the personal concerns which may absorb us more than ‘the world stage’ are nevertheless defined by that world stage.
His characters are all highly moral, ordinary, flawed and their attempts to honour their personal moral codes create impossible anguish and conflict for which there can be no ‘happy ending’. Someone, somewhere, must always suffer.
I very much liked the ending – again, I don’t want to give it away – but it seemed to be much more ‘that’s what life is like’ than the wrapped up conclusion we often want in literature, films etc.
I personally found each of the 3 characters incredibly likeable, and cared about all of them – and valued the fact Faulks wasn’t saying ‘okay, like this one more than that one’, and letting us off the hook by having someone be an obvious fall guy.
I think it is a cooler, more mature, less ‘romantic’ book than some of his others (which I’ve also enjoyed tremendously – he is a very crafted writer)
Am I alone in finding this book so satisfying and moving – in a very different way?