It’s Winter, 1959 and three married couples: each living in England’s Lane, each with an only child, and each attending to family, and their livelihoods – the ironmonger, the sweetshop and the butcher. And each of them hiding their lies, coping in the only way they know how and so we meet Jim and Milly, Stan and Jane and Jonathan and Fiona.
Connolly slowly builds up each character, pulling you into their lives and just like real life, invites you to make judgements and assumptions about them. So is Milly being a genuine neighbour when she offers to sit with Jane and as she does, you begin to feel nervous for her. His writing style moves effortlessly between the characters much in the same way as you’d walk along any 1950’s suburb street in England and there are wonderful depictions of behaviour so that you can easily visualise Jim sitting at his kitchen table moaning or understanding Fiona’s thoughts as she lives with her husband’s infidelities.
This is novel set, at a time when Connolly was growing up, is based on a real North London street that still has the pub and the chemist however now without the butcher nor the sweetshop but the obligatory Starbucks in many ways this street could be in any English town. Connolly stresses it is in no way autobiographical but for any reader who lives through the late 50’s/early 60’s this will be a brilliant reminder for them what life was like.