In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2011, A L Kennedy objected to ‘Hollywood endings’ and ‘people wanting the unobtainable’. She’s certainly not a writer we associate with happily-ever-after: her 2009 short story collection, What Becomes, asked what exactly does become of the brokenhearted, while in 2011’s All the Rage (more short stories), one character defines ‘the real experience of love’ as ‘having unreasonably lost all shelter’. Connections missed, damaged people doing damage to one another, loss, loneliness, the despair and rage that lurk beneath the everyday: these are the key ingredients of Kennedy’s inimitable fiction, leavened by some of the driest, blackest humour on the market.
It’s clever of her, then, to write a whole novel about a happy ending. Serious Sweet takes place over twenty-four hours in the lives of Londoners Jon and Meg. We are introduced to them, separately, at 6.42am (each chapter is given a precise time). But gradually it becomes clear that