x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Neighbourly intrigue in Connolly's EastEndersesque 11th novel

England's Lane easily brings to mind an EastEnders-type soap opera, except played out over a single street in north-west London and with far fewer characters.

England's Lane by Joseph Connolly
England's Lane by Joseph Connolly

England’s Lane
Joseph Connolly
Quercus
Dh98
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While Joseph Connolly bemoans the fact that his name is rarely uttered in the same breath as that of Martin Amis or Julian Barnes, along with his work having never been nominated for a Booker prize, he is regardless considered an old hand at the nostalgic 1950s, a period which saw him born and raised in England's Lane. Though his 11th book isn't an autobiography, first-hand experience seems to have been a major influence.

England's Lane easily brings to mind an EastEnders-type soap opera, except played out over a single street in north-west London and with far fewer characters. These are: Milly Stammer, the frustrated ironmonger's wife; her husband Jim Stammer; Jonathan Barton, the butcher harbouring a bloody secret; and the sweetshop owner Stan Miller. Interwoven between them are threads of deception, resurfacing crimes of the past, and a handful of affairs.

Connolly's knack for vernacular is ever-present with the constant switch between perspectives, among which each character voice registers clear and distinguishable. In a plot that grows surprisingly complex with each chapter, it becomes a talent to be thankful for as the protagonists develop further in startling new directions.