Midland by James Flint

Published by Unbound

What the blurb says :

On his way back from a meeting one day, investment banker Alex Wold finds himself standing up to his waist in the Thames, trying to guide a lost bottlenose whale back out to the sea. Later, as he’s drying out his suit and shoes, the news comes through that Tony Nolan – his mother’s ex-husband – has died of a sudden heart attack. Alex wonders if the universe is urging him to resolve a long-running feud with his environmentalist brother Matthew, and with the Wolds and the Nolans all heading back to Warwickshire for Tony’s funeral he now has an opportunity to do just that. But he finds Matthew as angry as ever, unable to relinquish his obsession with Caitlin, Tony’s troubled daughter, whose actions force both families to take an uncomfortable journey into the past. In Midland, the acclaimed novelist James Flint carries out a devastating exploration of what binds families together, and what tears them apart.

My thoughts :

I love it when I just fall into a book – and that is exactly what happened with Midland. I had never read anything by James Flint before, but was intrigued by the synopsis and premise for the novel. I love stories about complex families, and here we have the tale of two families from the Midlands – the Nolans and the Wolds. Their histories are inextricably linked and complicated. The book is “an exploration of what binds families together, and what tears them apart.”

We are introduced to the families when the children are all grown up and have left university. Between them, exist dark secrets, regrets and misunderstandings which stretch back decades. As adults, they have all drifted apart and are trying to forge their adult lives in different parts of the world. However, the death of the Nolan patriarch, Tony, draws them all back to the Midlands. Their brief reunion has catastrophic repercussions.

This story is divided into different sections : Whale, Gull, Egg, Stag and Elephant. The different sections explore the different characters as they are now, and then peel back the layers of grief, allowing us to see where the angst and hurt originated. In the Wolds, we meet mother and father Miles and Margaret, Alex (successful financier), his brother Matthew (Greenpeace activist), and sister Emily (living back at home after being made redundant from her post as features editor at a London magazine). In the Nolan household, there are the parents, Tony and Sheila, Sean (who runs the family business) and Caitlin (who works for a film company)…then there’s Jamie – the black sheep.

I really loved this book. James Flint’s writing is clear, precise and beautiful…Midland is a masterclass in story-telling.

Thank you to Anne Carter for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for my copy of Midland. I’m really excited to have discovered Jame Flint’s writing.

About James Flint

Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1968, James Flint is the author of three novels and one book of short stories. In 1998 Time Out magazine called his first book, Habitus, “probably the best British fiction dĂ©but of the last five years,” and when it was published in France it was judged one of the top five foreign novels of 2002. His second novel, 52 Ways to Magic America, claimed the Amazon.co.uk award for the year 2000, and his third, The Book of Ash, won an Arts Council Writers Award and was described by the Independent’s leading literary critic as “a bold British counterpart to DeLillo’s Underworld.”

In 2002 his short story The Nuclear Train was adapted for Channel 4 television; he has had a long involvement with Port Eliot Festival and curated the film tent there for several years; and his journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, Sight & Sound, Time Out, The Times, The Independent, Arena, The Economist, Dazed & Confused and many others. From 2009-2012 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Telegraph Weekly World Edition, and he is currently the co-founder and CEO of the health communications start-up Hospify.

Check out what the other bloggers on the tour thought:

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