The Godless Boys by Naomi Wood; Hate: A Romance by Tristan Garcia; The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus; Hill Farm by Miranda France; The Coincidence Engine by Sam Leith - review by Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes

Confidence Tricks

  • Naomi Wood, 
  • Tristan Garcia, 
  • Leo Benedictus, 
  • Miranda France, 
  • Sam Leith
 

After the Second World War, England was gripped by a weird religious mania. The church-going majority turned on unbelievers, first ostracising them, then resorting to violence before, at last, instituting a programme of forced deportation. All sceptics and free-thinkers were sent into exile, shipped to a distant island. This, at least, is the alternative version of history that is imagined by Naomi Wood in her first novel, The Godless Boys, which begins – in a sly refashioning, perhaps, of the opening of The Wicker Man – with the arrival of a Christian girl upon this atheistic isle. 

There are many stories that Wood might have told in her elaborate, fitfully plausible world but the one that she has chosen – about the consequences of a tentative love affair between the naive visitor and a secularist skinhead (‘there might be so much God in her veins

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