The form of George Walden’s new book is as arresting as its content. Imagined members of his own family ask ‘Dad’, in the wake of an eight-year-old grandchild’s having been knocked unconscious by some marauding Somali, whether it is ‘time to emigrate’. Replying from vacation in southern France, Walden hurries off a 200-page reflection about modern Britain rather than a brief email, fax or letter. The answer to the question in the title is ‘try it for a bit’ – ‘it’ being America or France, although I’d personally recommend John Howard’s Australia.
This epistolary form is a highly effective vehicle for Walden’s thoughts on the current state of our nation. The writing is brilliant in a leisurely sort of way, as befits a retired homme d’affaires and senior politician, while the tone ranges from the wincingly coruscating to the darkly comic. Having