It is Britain in the late 1950s: every weekday the BBC Home Service broadcasts The Parkers from 4.30 to 4.45 (the signature tune is a country dance called 'Sellinger's Round'). It has an avid following. For this novel, Paul Binding hit upon the brilliant idea of creating a radio soap opera, everything revolves around it, and all the characters, in one way or another, are under its influence.
There is, for instance, Bruno, as arrogant as he is handsome, his Aunt Eileen (addicted to The Parkers), his adoring cousin Ian, Verity Orchard (in one review likened to Virginia Woolf cross-pollinated with Elfine Starkadder from Cold Comfort Farm) and her sexually ambiguous husband Charles Compson.
This is a glorious, effervescent but at times sad novel recreating its period with acute and affectionate accuracy.
In a long and admiring review in the Spectator, Zenga Longmore concluded:
'This book bursts with surprises both funny and brutal. Every character has a hidden jack-in-the-box 'other side' which pops out to hit poor Bruno in the face just as he thinks he has manipulated things so nicely.
Paul Binding has produced an original masterpiece, an ingenious concoction of school essays, letters, radio scripts and cantering narrative. His portrayal of 1950s rock'n'roll, furniture, books, magazines leaves one asking how he can so vividly recall the details. Is it memory or meticulous research?
This is an exquisitely crafted novel, comic but oh so agonising.'
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Number of pages: 220
Weight: 278 g
Dimensions: 216 x 135 x 16 mm