Melvyn Bragg's first novel, For Want of a Nail, was published in 1965 and since then his novels have included The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Liewellyn Rhys Prize, Credo, The Maid of Buttermere and The Soldier's Return, which was published to huge critical acclaim in 1999 and won the WHSmith Literary Award. He has also written several works of non-fiction including Speak for England, an oral history of the twentieth century, Rich, a biography of Richard Burton, On Giants' Shoulders, and most recently, The Adventure of English, based on the Granada TV series. He is controller of Arts at LWT and President of the National Campaign for the Arts, and in 1998 he was made a life peer. He lives in London and Cumbria.
The final volume in Bragg's acclaimed trilogy about post-World War II England (after Soldier's Return and Son of War) picks up in the mid-1950s as young Joe Richardson becomes the first in the Northumbrian village of Wigton to attend Oxford. His parents, having weathered the storms of war, are approaching middle age and watch young Joe on the threshold of this great adventure with pride and affection. However, Joe is torn between his love of learning and his love for his teenage sweetheart, Rachel. He relishes his time with his learned tutors and the camaraderie with his fellow undergraduates but rushes back to Wigton and Rachel every chance he gets. Meanwhile, Rachel has left school and is cycling through jobs in a local bank, her life gradually steering away from Joe. Readers of the first two novels will warmly and enthusiastically welcome this finely crafted and engaging conclusion to Bragg's family saga. Highly recommended.-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
'I was bowled over by it . . . an enormously important piece of literature about post-war Britain' [A.C. Grayling, Guardian]'Enthralling, a joy to read' [Allan Massie, Scotsman]'An expertly told tale which is satisfying in its own right and as a continuation of a monumental series.' [Frank Egerton, The Times]'Richly detailed and extraordinarily poignant . . . Melvyn Bragg is slowly cementing his place among the aristocrats of English fiction' [David Robson, Sunday Telegraph]
Bragg's massive trilogy of his hometown in Cumbria, northern England, steers to a close as the torch is passed from WWII hero Sam Richardson to his son Joe. In 1955, Wigton is a quiet town, animated by hard work, gossip and changes of weather. Joe spends his days in school, nights working in his parents' pub and most of his free time thinking about his neighbor Lizzie. When Lizzie is sexually assaulted by some local roughnecks, the men are brutally beaten, and Lizzie is shipped off to be cared for by Liverpool relatives. As Joe grows older, his choices become starker; as he grows serious with a schoolmate named Rachel, opportunity knocks in the form of Oxford. Bragg has returned to the subject of Wigton many times over his long career as a novelist and BBC commentator, and his deep affection and knowledge of the place give strength to this coming-of-age story. As in The Soldier's Return and A Son of War, Bragg's prose is straightforward and unadorned, allowing only the occasional literary flourish, with a tendency toward understatement that is as precise as it is convincing. Devoted Anglophiles in particular will find much to appreciate in this unhurried examination of postwar English life. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.