x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Jubilee: an exploration of relationships, secrets and scars

A street party held to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 25 years on the throne in 1977 is the setting for Shelley Harris's nostalgic work.

It is Britain in 1977 and Andrew Ford, a jobbing photographer on the fictional Bucks Gazette newspaper, is tasked with photographing a street party staged to celebrate the Silver Jubilee, the 25th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II.

Such is the clever (some might say cute) plot device for Shelley Harris's debut novel, that the photograph Ford takes will be syndicated around the world, propelling him to global fame and making a star of its central figure, Satish, "an Asian boy [seemingly] happy in his white-majority Buckinghamshire village". Thirty years later, Ford makes overtures to Satish to recreate the image, who is by now an eminent cardiologist, as well as the rest of those he caught in his original frame.

Readers expecting a nostalgic trip back to the Seventies will be partially satisfied. Harris's cultural references are spot-on, from Top Trumps to 10cc, but really, this set-up provides the platform for an exploration of relationships, secrets and the scars (both real and imagined) that her characters are burdened with in childhood and in their adult lives.