The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn

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The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A contemporary novel with a light and sometimes comical touch. Britain's architecture, the role of the minor celebrity and how certain individuals deal with ageing are all central themes here.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0670918553

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The main character in this novel is Frank Allcroft. Husband, father, son and also a bit of a minor celebrity as he's beamed into the region's television screens nightly, presenting the local news. Make that minor with a small 'm'. He comes across as a likeable, middle-aged man, content with his lot and with his home life. But he does have some personal issues to attend to. In particular, his grumpy, sometimes forgetful, elderly mother who is now living in a retirement home. Mother and son give each other lots of grief on a regular basis.

You can tell that rather lovable Frank is a generation apart. From most people. At times it seems as if he's got one foot in the proverbial grave. His co-presenters are cool - with cool names to match. Sharp haircuts and trendy clothes. They sort of put up with Frank in the nicest possible way. Sometimes he cuts a rather pathetic figure around the television studio. His young daughter, Mo, seems to keep him on his toes with her infectious and inquisitive mind and also with her endless questions. She's a bundle of energy and fun and I loved her. I also took to Frank but for different reasons. He's quite a calming figure in the ever-changing world which O'Flynn presents to the readers.

Her knowledge of Birmingham is apparent and comes across throughout. She tells us snippets of the city's illustrious architectural past. Her 'voice' is that of Frank's late father, a hard-working city architect. But, as most of us are aware, some architecture is more loved than others. Some stand the test of time better than others. And this is true, not only in Birmingham but in our other major cities also - Manchester, Cardiff, London and Glasgow for example.

O'Flynn also treats us to some local dialect which adds colour and another dimension to her novel. But what it lacked for me, I'm afraid, was really a sense of originality. Her key elements could be cameo stories which most of us have heard before. So I wasn't as enamoured as the cover blurb which states It's a wonderful book. I thought it a pleasant book.

O'Flynn gives the reader a taste of growing old. In the guise of golden boy, television presenter Phil. A man who still thinks he's 21, although now in his 70s. He's managed to bag a bit of a wag and married a woman more than half his age but even that doesn't make him happy. It would, I think, for many. So, for me, the whole Phil thing lacked a touch of credibility. I found this novel an easy, uncomplicated, gentle read. But it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. I wanted more of a 'bite' and I didn't get it.

To be fair, the parts written about the retirement home were endearing and also engaging. I would have welcomed more. the residents in the home were an interesting bunch - and some of them could truly be described as having one foot in the grave. One male resident who lives there described Frank's mother as ... on her good days she's like a crisp, clean gin and tonic. And another good-humoured resident has a lovely bit of banter when Frank visits. There's a good piece involving an erstwhile pop band. I could happily have stayed with these residents for most of the novel. They did sing out on the page. All-in-all, a pleasant read but it didn't live up to my expectations.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try Cut on the Bias by Stephanie Tillotson.

Buy The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn at Amazon.com.


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