I always feel slightly privileged to read a book written by Paul Torday. His characterisation is second to none and he manages to elevate the seemingly prosaic to the dizzy heights of completely profound.
In this book we meet Ed Hartlepool who was born into a family where money was never an issue and where it’s continued presence was never in doubt. Through death and the vagaries of poor management he finds himself in a position where everything must be sold to cover the debts.
This results in him coming into association with the “new” money of property development in the face of the fatuous and shallow character of Geiff Tarset.
Geoff has been in relationship with Annabel Gazebee. Annabel is an old friend of Ed and still carries the flame for him. She lives with her father and it is this relationship with her father that provides the counter for this book and the thread which elevates it from the crowd. Her situation develops over the course of the book and despite its absurdity, is completely believable.
There is also the story of Alice Birtley, who has settled herself into Eds house (Hartlepool hall), and he returns from his exile in France to find her ensconced and her story is gradually revealed over the course of the book.
I enjoyed the way that this book really gets to the heart of what we leave as a “legacy” and how what we do whilst we alive means so much more and has more resonance. This is the real feeling behind the story of “Alice”. This is a story with a great deal of warm characters.