Published in March 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Tim Parks often writes about Italy, where he lives, but his latest novel returns to his native Manchester for a fragmented account of a 25-year marriage fizzling out.
Thomas is an advertising executive; Mary left work to raise their children. No crisis precipitates their divorce, despite his cheating on her with more than a dozen other women. The novel is less interested in plot than in crisp descriptions of petty resentment: in midlife, Thomas and Mary spend evenings on their separate laptops or on solo dog-walks, one feigning sleep when the other returns.
Structurally, the novel is an exercise in style, with short episodes jumping randomly in time and point of view. In one, Thomas’s dead parents discuss the action from beyond the grave; another consists of a monologue from his tennis partner, who listens to his worries about women’s orgasms.