“Glasshopper is an exploration of the complex family relationships of three generations, set against the backdrops of the revolution and hedonism of the Sixties; and the polarisation and tensions of Thatcher’s Britain. It is Portsmouth in 1984, and 13 year old Jake is wrestling with all the angst of his early teenage years. Jake also has to cope with the separation of his parents, and his older brother leaving home. His mother, Mary, is spiralling out of control as she seeks to blot out the consequences of a troubled past that have left many ambitions unfulfilled. The chapters alternate in following Mary’s life history and Jake’s eight month struggle to maintain a sense of family life. Both story lines flow well as the plots unravel and converge. The pace of the narrative gathers speed towards the inevitable conclusion caused by the collision of fractured families and false expectations. A final twist in the tale leaves Jake shocked, but his resourcefulness sees him continuing to try to hold things together for his younger brother and father. I thoroughly enjoyed this book; the characters were rich and interesting and developed along with the story. The dialogue was contemporary, relevant and not overworked. Using the soft touch of a watercolour artist, the scenes painted with words of many familiar Sussex locations and landmarks were a joy as they portrayed 1950s picnics on the East Sussex Downs and a trip to the ‘fleapit’ in Bognor. Isabel’s description of the starlings taking flight under Brighton’s East pier is haunting, capturing precisely the mood and movement of this natural display, which continues to draw many visitors to the promenade at dusk. I would recommend Glasshopper to anyone who enjoys contemporary literary fiction.”
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