Passing Go (by Libby Purves)

I'm enjoying Libby Purves' novels. Best known as a journalist, she has an excellent, direct style that tells an excellent story. I'm slowly collecting all her published fiction.

'Passing Go', which I received for Christmas, is about a family who were - apparently - fairly contented before the book opens. Then Roy loses his job. It turns out to be the last straw in his dull life of denial. He takes to the streets, initially as a protest, then finds himself surprisingly reluctant to return to his wife Helen and son Zack.

Helen, finding herself in dire financial straits all of a sudden, takes a manual job. To her surprise, she finds herself really enjoying it. Zack, meanwhile, who goes to stay with friends, decides to contact his sister. She is a rather shocking artist, and Zack particularly wants to know what has happened to her twin Danny, whom his parents refuse even to mention.

I found this a very moving book, with a startling exposé that I would never have guessed part-way through. Some of the characters, inevitably, were a little caricatured; however that's not a bad thing when there are several of them, as it makes them easier to distinguish. Nor did it detract from the careful plotting and very believable main characters, who I found warm and likeable.

A hopeful ending, too. Definitely recommended.

(You can also read my longer review of 'Passing Go' written on re-reading sixteen-and-a-half years later)

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