VOL NO REGD NO DA 1589

Monday, August 21, 2006

HEADLINE

POLITICS & POLICIES

METRO/COUNTRY

EDITORIAL

OPINIONS & VIEWS

LETTER TO EDITOR

COMPANIES & FINANCE

National Day of Malaysia

BUSINESS/FINANCE

LEISURE & ENTERTAINMENT

MARKET & COMMODITIES

SPORTS

WORLD

 

FE Specials

URBAN PROPERTY

FE Education

FE Information Technology

Special on Logistics

NATIONAL DAY OF EGYPT

Saturday Feature

Asia/South Asia

 

Feature

13th SAARC SUMMIT DHAKA-2005

SWISS NATIONAL DAY 2006

57th Republic Day of India

US TRADE SHOW

 

 

 

Archive

Site Search

 

HOME

BOOK REVIEWS
 
Gleeful farce of the deepest, darkest order
Melissa McClements
9/12/2005
 

          

LOVE IS STRANGE
by Joseph Connolly
Faber & Faber 12.99, 495 pages

Burning crucifixes, whipwielding nuns and rapist priests are not the usual stuff of farce -- generally a custard-pie-in-the-face kind of affair. But the latest novel from Joseph Connolly, Love is Strange, is a farce of the very blackest kind -- and one that the new Pope will be unlikely to select as bed time reading. Connolly is best known for his comic novels, including It Can't Go On, although he is also the author of Modern First Editions, the standard work on book collecting, and a biography of P.G. Wodehouse. His humour turned towards the theological dark side with his last novel The Works, in which an earthly utopia goes horribly wrong. But Love is Strange takes this murky trend much further.
The narrative gets under way slowly, with the dark, anti-Catholic depravity at its core hidden under a cloak of middle class domesticity. The novel is written as a series of interwoven monologues from the four members of the Coyle family in 1950s London: Gillian Coyle, a slightly neurotic housewife in love with her new Singer sewing machine; Arthur Coyle, her pontificating husband; their daughter Annette, who is struggling to conform in a strict convent school, and their eight-year-old, happy-go-lucky son Clifford. There is much situational comedy - beautifully exemplified in the scene in which a drunken Arthur arrives late at a dinner he insisted Gillian cook for his boss. The uproar is added to by Annette's bletherings about how she once believed herself to be the Holy Ghost, the arrival of a nosy neighbour and the boss tripping over the doorstep. The characterisation too reflects the traditional demands of farce; it is strong and even bordering on caricature. Connolly defines each of the four Coyle voices so clearly that the story moves easily between their differing perspectives.
Nearly the entire first half of the novel describes the apparent normality of Coyle family life -- including great contemporary detail, such as Clifford's collection of cards and plastic toys from cereal and tea packets. But, while Gillian makes jellies and Clifford puts off doing his homework, all is not well. With a taste for prostitutes, gambling and whisky, Arthur is far from the upstanding lawyer's clerk he seems to be. Worse still, his relationship with his daughter -- already emotionally confused by the angry brand of Catholicism forced on her by the nuns at school -- is deeply unhealthy. The legacy of Arthur's abuse of Annette, and Gillian's inability to face up to it, is that the family's moral values are destroyed forever.
It is Arthur's death, when he falls off the roof trying to fix the family's new TV ariel, which provides the turning point in the narrative. After he has been splattered over the patio, the story spirals away from the cosy suburbia of the first 250 pages, through the liberalisation of swinging London in the 1960s and on to the darkness of the Coyle family's modern life and the three remaining members' predilection for incest, prostitution, extortion, murder and blackmail. Like latter day mobsters organised by enraged women, they become the polar opposite of the patriarchal, nuclear family they appeared to be at the outset.
Indeed, there is a strong influence of 1940s and 1950s cinematic melodrama in the novel's later stages, as characters morph into evil villains with no redeeming qualities and the tone becomes borderline hysterical.
Gillian's transformation from uptight, trivia-obsessed home-maker into wild-eyed matriarch with a knack for scheming and extreme violence is the most unnerving of all. That said, her utter craziness and difference from her earlier self provide some laugh-out-loud moments. Love is Strange is farce of the deepest, darkest order. It is also a melodramatic morality tale, exposing the decay beneath the comfortable respectability of a family's life. Not a read for the faint hearted or for die-hard followers of Rome, it sends nostalgic chintz down in gleeful, satanic flames.
..................................................................
Under syndication arrangement with FE

 

 
  More Headline
Indonesia confirms 46th bird flu death, probes possible
Second day of protests against fuel price rise cripples Nepal capital
Iran tests short-range missile
Unable to achieve peace, Sri Lanka returns to war
New breast cancer test 'reliable'
South Korea gives North Korea 100,000 tonnes rice
Ten killed in Baghdad sniper attack
Dozens of Taleban fighters killed in Afganistan
Zambia loses 800 teachers to HIV/AIDS annually
Nearly 11m illegal immigrants living in US
Two peacekeepers killed in Darfur
 

Print this page | Mail this page | Save this page | Make this page my home page

About us  |  Contact us  |  Editor's panel  |  Career opportunity | Web Mail

 

 

 

 

Copy right @ financialexpress.com