Lucian Robinson

To the Mad House



Harvill Secker 389pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The modern English provincial novel is a many-headed beast of a literary category. It is a genre that subsumes, among others, the knowing, satirical denunciations of Kingsley Amis; the sardonic ennui of Alan Sillitoe and David Storey; the tender social complexities of Penelope Fitzgerald; and the historically incisive fictions of Graham Swift. Sometimes it seems as if these novelists are writing about different countries. There is little common ground between Amis’s caricature of provincial life in his 1960 novel Take a Girl Like You – one filled with ‘the inevitable debris of obligation and deceit and money and boredom and jobs and egotism and disappointment’ – and the acute seriousness of Swift’s investigations into what he has called the ‘failing English world’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,