In The End of the Day, Bill Clegg returns to his native Connecticut, the setting of his Booker Prize-longlisted debut novel Did You Ever Have a Family. As in that book, Clegg chooses as his leading character an heiress and member of New England’s ersatz aristocracy. Dana Goss is sixty-eight, bisexual and succumbing to dementia. Spurred by the prospect of a steep cognitive decline, she decides to resolve a series of disputes that tore her household apart in the early 1970s. But the standard method of reconciliation – picking up the telephone and ringing estranged acquaintances – is too conventional for Dana. Instead, she travels around the northeast of the United States in a chauffeur-driven car, carrying a brown suitcase full of birth certificates, letters and official documents, which, if read carefully by the appropriate people, might put right a half-century of wrongs.
Although some of the chapters are told over the shoulder of five other characters, Dana holds the book together, both because she is the most interesting of the bunch and because she forms a link of some sort between the other five. From the off, Dana charms with withering descriptions