Towards the end of Nourishment, Tory Pace opens her late mother’s box of papers and finds an amalgamation of documents from previous generations of the family. ‘You stock up your box with mementos,’ Tory considers, ‘then hand it onto your children when you die, who sort through it ... then add their own.’ The box, she concludes, is ‘a sort of vehicle travelling through the generations, picking up passengers as it goes along’.
Gerard Woodward’s novels are a bit like that. Whether in his trilogy about the hapless family of Aldous Jones, or in this latest book, he plots over decades. The narratives don’t so much build as unspool. He writes on a saga scale, but with a tragicomic domestic sensibility.