Thank you to Emma of Damppebbles blog tours for the invitation on to the blog tour for We Need to Talk by Jonathan Crane. If you get chance, do check out the other bloggers thoughts on the tour.
About the Book
A WICKEDLY HONEST PORTRAIT OF MIDDLE ENGLAND ON THE EVE OF COVID
‘A hymn to the mundane, as intricately crafted as an Ayckbourn play. A brilliant first novel’ AILSA COX
It’s 2019 in Sudleigh, a market town not far from the south coast. It’s not a bad place to live, provided the new housing development doesn’t ruin it, but most residents are too caught up in their own grudges, sores and struggles to notice.
Gap-year Tom is cleaning toilets but finding unexpected solace in his Chinese house-share. Former lounge musician Frank wants to pass his carpet business to his nephew Josh, killing the boy’s dream to become a chef. Sharp-elbowed phone-sex operator Heather will stop at nothing to become manager of the golf club. Miss Bennett keeps putting her house on the market when she doesn’t want to move.
Do they all know how their lives are linked? And will creative writing tutor Tony, hard at work on his ironic pseudo-children’s book The Jazz Cats, ever pluck up the courage to leave his unappreciative girlfriend Lydia?
Meticulously observed, with flashes of wicked comedy, We Need to Talk offers a jigsaw puzzle of unwitting connections for the reader to assemble. The finished picture is an unflinchingly honest portrait of multi-jobbing, gig-economy Middle England on the eve of Covid.
What I thought
If you’re like me you will love sitting on a beach or in a cafe, anywhere where you can, by chance, casually eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. I think humans just have an innate interest in the minutiae details of others’ day to day lives. If so, you will love this book because each chapter is a kind of vignette of each of the characters lives in a given time. A fly on the wall look at what happens to those passing strangers you might have happened upon while out and about.
There isn’t a plot as such and there isn’t really an ending, however I thought it makes for fascinating reading and I enjoyed it very much. Each character study is a short story in itself, quite often with a moral to the tale, or something to make the reader stop and think. Some of the characters are connected, some are not. Some are amusing – in a dark kind of way, whilst others have a very sorry tale to tell, making the reader just want to reach out and give them a hug.
People like George who after retiring because his wife said it’s time they did, she promptly dies and leaves George lost and alone.
Then there was Tom. Only 18/19 he is the innocent victim of a broken home, unwanted and unloved or so it would appear. He has two jobs so he can pay for somewhere to rent as he’s not welcome at home any more.
It’s just a brilliant observation of every-day life, encompassing loneliness, job dissatisfaction, even selfishness for some characters. I would love to know what happened to all the characters, and where they went from when we last see them, but that’s the beauty of the book. These are just snapshots, you have to draw your own conclusions about what might have happened next. Since it all took place just before the beginning of the pandemic, I imagine life got a lot more lonely and a lot more difficult for quite a few of these people. It’s fiction but you know, as it says in the blurb this is the closest you’ll get to real people, any one of them could be living in your street right now – be kind!
I give a great big glowing 5 stars for this brilliant book that had me completely engrossed all the way through.
♥ Happy Reading ♥
The book was published by Lightning Books on 5th July 2021 in paperback and digital format and is available from the following book sellers:-
Jonathan Crane completed an MA in Literature and a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Essex, where he is now an academic in Creative Writing. He also works with charities to design and deliver writing programmes in prison and community settings.
His previous writing includes fiction and academic papers. Formerly a musician/composer, he has released two albums. We Need to Talk is his first novel.
He currently lives in Hampshire.