The Donnelly family, the central figures in Nick Laird’s third novel, ought to be happy. They’re reasonably well off. Many of them work in the estate agency founded by Kenneth, while Alison, the second of his three children, is about to embark on what should be a blissful second marriage after a disastrous first with an alcoholic. However, in Modern Gods we join them as things are unravelling.
Liz, the free-roaming, academic oldest child, returns to Ulster from New York for the wedding after finding her younger boyfriend enjoying a tender postcoital moment with another man. Her mother, Judith, has untreatable cancer, and the youngest sibling, Spencer, feels infantilised by his reliance on his father for work. Worst