London, 1939. Mary and Jack. In love, unmarried and happy. Until the outbreak of the Second World War. Jackie, ever the lad, is bent on escaping conscription, but the contacts he makes drag him ever deeper into a dangerous criminal underworld. Yet it is Mary who undertakes the most surprising transformation. Despite striving for normality, she must confront a set of choices that will lead to a backstreet abortion and an unexpected vocation. With every tone and cadence of this novel, from wireless to air-raid siren, Connolly conducts with masterful hand and compassionate grace the voices of a once hopeful working class couple - now blitzed, battered and breaking into a desperate new dawn.
In the kitchen Gillian loads the Hotpoint and frets about letting her baby go. In the bathroom Clifford styles his hair like Cliff's and wishes for a television. In the front room Arthur smokes a pipe and plots to fend off the loan sharks. In her bedroom Annette lifts up her nightie and heads for Clifford's room. In a tour-de-force of undressed taboo, four monologues intertwine to begin the story of an ordinary family in the fifties. How their seemingly contented, simple world bubbles under with odd desires and secret pangs - how it is shaken when they come to light - and how, step by step with the dawning sixties, life for all of them is whirled into a carousel of fashion, debauchery and explosive revelation.
Susan wants another husband. Which comes as a shock to the current one. 'But not instead of you, Alan, my sugar - as well as. You see?' Yet once Susan has brazenly commandeered her boss's rich, elderly hand, Alan finds himself curiously cherishing the company - sharing wife, whisky and other, odder peccadilloes. Indeed Susan is forced to root out alternative amusements - and with their teenage daughter copying her disintegrating moral code, the complex machinery of their lives soon begins to break down. Joseph Connolly plunges the reader into a tumultuous medley of inner monologues with keen, unabashed relish; exposing marital bedroom and male bonding in this biting, excruciatingly funny observation of men, women and adolescent girls.
The sequel to the bestselling Summer Things. A summer of lust has given way to the winter of discontent. Brian and Dotty have lost everything and are seeing in the yuletide from a caravan on their friends' driveway. Howard and Lizzie have it all and they're not sharing - except for a lover or two. In a spirit of neighbourly envy, adulterous love and goodwill to oneself, it might be time to learn the true meaning of Christmas - whether they like it or not.