Between Each Breath by Adam Thorpe - review by John de Falbe

John de Falbe

Not So Ordinary

Between Each Breath

By

Jonathan Cape 419pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

I liked this book very much. Quoting from Dombey and Son in his epigraph – ‘“We are dreadfully real, Mr Carker”, said Mrs Skewton; “are we not?”’ – Adam Thorpe announces that he has set out to write a story about the particular intensities of ordinary people.

Jack Middleton, a composer, visits Estonia hoping to find inspiration for a piece he has been commissioned to write for the opening of the Millennium Dome. To his astonishment, instead of inspiring music, the freedom he finds there causes him to have an affair with Kaja, a beautiful waitress. Convinced that this is a closed episode, he returns to London and his wife Milly and resumes his usual existence.

His own origins are poor: he was a prodigy, born on a housing estate in Hayes, near Heathrow, where his parents still live; his mother is blind. But he married an heiress who now, at last, is expecting their first child. In anticipation of this longed-for event, they move from

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