Blended families are complicated enough in real life; in fiction they pose significant challenges. When a minor character announces, ‘My daughter’s ex-husband was a fraudster and a thief’, even the most alert reader might have to stop and check that they know who’s who. Michael Arditti’s new novel is not literally full of widows and orphans, but it is pervaded by a sense of adriftness and fracture.
Duncan Neville is the editor of the Mercury, a struggling local newspaper that has belonged to his family for almost 150 years. The glory days of lavish advertising and generous salaries long past, he has to live above the shop, in the small flat his father reserved for extramarital trysts.