Thursday, 14 August 2014

Reckless by William Nicholson

William Nicholson’s latest novel follows three characters, each at critical times of their lives at the time of two critical points in history. The first event is the atomic bomb going off in Hiroshima in 1945; the second, taking place nearly twenty years later, is the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Rupert is something of a philosopher, working for Mountbatten, British Chief of Staff, as the Cuba/US stand-off unfolds. At the end of World War Two he'd pledged to do what he could so there would be no more wars. Mary, living in a remote part of Ireland, has had visions as a young girl, predicting the end of the world. Cosseted in a convent, Mary’s life changes dramatically when she meets Rupert.

At the age of eighteen, Pamela has begged to be allowed to live in London, and devotes her time trying to dazzle everyone with her youth and loveliness. She is soon caught up with the artistic and moneyed crowd who become the major players in what will go down in history as the Profumo Affair.

Nicholson has captured a period when things could have all gone horribly wrong and the end of the world seemed a distinct possibility. The growing tension throws the characters into various types of crisis and Nicholson makes them all very real and sympathetic. The reader is also treated to a fly-on-the-wall view of history through scenes involving Kruschev, Mountbatten and even JFK, which is a big help if your grasp on these events is a bit shaky. I found the novel by turns moving and thought-provoking, and throughout, utterly gripping.

Posted by JAM

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