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Jo'Burg Days: In A Land Of Plenty

Barbara Durlacher enjoys a novel which emphasises the importance of a close-knot family.

In A Land Of Plenty by Tim Pears

Perhaps it’s an indication of how many books are published in Britain every year, that so many excellent stories appear on the shelves unheralded, unacknowledged and unappreciated. In this latest of my “finds” at my local library, the full gamut of a slightly eccentric English family is revealed with all their frailties through three generations. Aspirations, loves and hates, a life-long preoccupation with diet or photography produce a catalogue of strong personalities and fascinating idiosyncrasies, some leading to tragic consequences.

We have a domineering, all powerful father, sweeping everyone before him as he forges ahead to great riches and a final ignominious bankruptcy; the indecisive brother invisible behind a camera who leaves a photographic record of his town as a lasting legacy after his unexpected death and the overweight yet ineffectual eldest son with his all consuming interest in his own health.

There is the abstracted sister, who, of them all, proves to have the makings of an intellectual who becomes a science graduate and a popular teacher, until she makes an unexpected but successful and happy marriage.

Woven through the narrative is the low key progress of Britain from the 1960s to the ‘90s – a record of growing prosperity, labour unrest and economic development. A land of plenty which in many ways fails to satisfy those who live there, yet remains an enigma and a challenge to those able to see the opportunities on offer.

Pears has succeeded in giving us a view of England rising from post-war austerity to end-of-the century pragmatism in an unusual and fascinating story. A book to read and enjoy which will give you a greater understanding of the forces that drive people and the importance of a close-knit family.



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