This is a very bitter novel. Yes, there are hilarious moments and a lot of ironic humour. However, the Iraq War dominates the book and I would be lying if I said every page is laugh-out-loud. It was quite topical when I re-read earlier this year, as Tony Blair had been given a knighthood and many people were angry about it.
The 5th instalment in the series (if we’re going by publication order, after The Cappuccino Years), or the 6th (if we’re going in chronological order of events, after The Lost Diaries) is set in 2002-4 and sees 35-year-old Adrian working as a bookseller and battling more personal crises than ever. His son Glenn is in the British Army and is going to Iraq, while Adrian is at odds with all of his friends because he supports the war and has trusted Tony Blair… up to now.
Meanwhile, Adrian’s parents have sold their house and are living on a muddy field while renovating a pigsty. His best friend Nigel is struggling to come to terms with going blind. Adrian is deep into debt, while living in an apartment he can’t afford and even terrorised by swans! His romantic life is worse than ever, as he struggles to escape an engagement with the New Age drip Marigold while falling in love with her rebellious sister Daisy.
The book is not my favourite of the series but I appreciate that it’s the most incisive and fiercely political. You definitely need to have read and enjoyed the previous books and also care what happens to the characters.
First published in 2004.