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by Ellen Proctor
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In a radical departure from the usual sympathetic portrayal of her subjects, Oldfield has chosen to employ a set of often sharp-tongued, mean-spirited narrators in a series of unrelated short literary sketches featuring modern-day working-class Englishmen and -women experiencing life-altering circumstances. The author's gift for keen observation and deft use of language make for intriguing glimpses into the many vagaries of human nature, from jealousy to fear, passion, betrayal, joy, courage, and grief. It isn't always clear from one sketch to another if the same characters are involved, but each striking tale stands on its own and will engage readers fascinated by the vulnerabilities and vanities of the human condition. Lynne Welch
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Leaves turn as winter arrives, but when when winter turns into spring, it's time, perhaps, to turn over a new leaf . . .
George Duke's retirement had turned into a living nightmare. Every waking moment was being minutely controlled by his wife Marie. He'd now pretty much exhausted his excuses for not going shopping with her, so one morning he told her the truth: he didn't want to go. Bravely, she went to the department store on her own, and returned triumphant. She taunted George with the mink coat she'd splashed out on it was absurdly expensive, not to mention the wrong size. Well, she couldn't be trusted to shop on her own, could she? He'd just have to take it back for her . . .
As George starts to consider how he could put an end to his marriage, Ann finds that Edmund has already terminated theirs. The wedding of their son the previous day had left Ann luxuriating in the satisfaction of a mother's job well done. But little had she realized just how over that stage of her life now was.
As marriages head for meltdown, tragedy follows. New leaves are turned. People are surprised especially by themselves.
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