D J Taylor

A Life Less Extraordinary

Thomas and Mary: A Love Story

By Tim Parks

Harvill Secker 342pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Thomas and Mary Paige, the main characters of this, Tim Parks’s seventeenth novel, first stumble upon each other at the University of Durham in 1978, plight their troth under the supervision of Tom’s clerical father and subsequently settle down into what looks like the most unruffled of bourgeois existences. There are two children, Sally and Mark, a number of relocations, a great deal of modest middle-class materialism, the making (by Tom) of a fair amount of money in advertising and the purchase of a decent-sized house on the outskirts of Manchester for the pursuit of their somewhat cautious but, we are led to infer, reasonably happy familial life.

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