Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tomorrow's secret leaves the reader asking is that all there is?

Books now read in ’07: 44
Title: Tomorrow
Author: Graham Swift
Genre: Fiction
Date Completed: 5-18
Pages: 248

Imagine that you had a secret. One that you had kept for 16 years. Now it is time for that secret to be shared and, naturally, you are worried about how those who hear it and are affected by it will respond.

That’s the premise of Graham Swift’s new novel Tomorrow. Lying awake in her bed, while her husband and two children sleep, Paula Hook recalls the past quarter century of her life – meeting her husband and their first night of love-making, the deaths of their parents, the flowering of their careers, their marital indiscretions and the birth of their twins.

The secret is slowly teased out and surely any reader must be forgiven if they struggle with both a sense of relief and disappointment – is that all there is? The secret, which will not be revealed here, seems neither earth-shattering nor disquieting. It does not seem possible that it could disrupt lives and, to that end, there is no actual disturbance only Paula’s fearful anticipation.

That brings us to the second reason for a reader’s potential disappointment. The book seems too narrow. It is played out in Paula’s solitary voice over a few hours time. Although she takes us on an extensive journey into the past, the novel feels restrictive, as if Swift needs to let some oxygen in, and does not allow the reader to develop an affinity with those characters most affected by the unveiling of the secret.

I am attempted to say that because this is a book by Graham Swift it is still worth reading and many will find that so, but because there are so many new works of fiction currently available to the reader Tomorrow is best set aside for something new today.

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