Evelyn Waugh and Amanda Craig

The Sunday Telegraph has a feature length article in which columnist Allison Pearson reviews a new novel by Amanda Craig in her “Shelf Life” column. This is The Lie of the Land and is described as the first state of the nation novel after Brexit. The story follows a London family made up of a newly unemployed architect wife and a failing and philandering journalist husband and their children. They cannot sell their London house because of its fall in value so they rent it and move to Devon where they discover the state of England outside of London. The son has failed entrance to Cambridge and so gets a job in a factory called Humble which makes pies. There he befriends one of the last remaining British production line workers, a bitter Ukip supporter, as well as a “sharp-elbowed” Polish girl friend from among the mostly foreign work force. The Polish girl, Katya, sees through the British with a bitter satire.

Pearson notes that this is Craig’s 8th book and sees her as under-appreciated. An earlier novel A Vicious Circle (1996) described the plight of Grenfell Towers residents 20 years before the disaster struck. And an earlier state of England novel Hearts and Minds (2009) was the decade’s best of its type but only nominated for an award. She hopes that Lie of the Land with its timely story will bring Craig’s writing the credit it deserves. The review concludes:

Craig has everything you look for in a major writer: wit, indignation, an ear for the telling phrase and an unflagging attention to all the individual choices by which we define ourselves–where we stand as a society and how we decline and fall. If Evelyn Waugh had a social conscience and liked children, he could have been Craig. In a Brexit Britain riven by tribal loyalties, maybe it takes a novelist to tell us a story that expands our human sympathy and makes us see the other side.

The article is not yet on the Telegraph’s website but has been retweeted here. Thanks to Milena Borden once again for calling the article to our attention.

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