Louise Dean The Old Romantic

ISBN 13: 9781594487798

The Old Romantic

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A long-estranged family discovers that blood is thicker than water in this hilarious and moving domestic comedy.

It's been a couple of decades since Nick cast off his impossible, contentious, embarrassingly working-class parents: gruff, stingy, explosive Ken and June, who seemed to revert to a primal state of nature after a divorce that both of them managed to blame on Nick. Enjoying the life of the country gentleman that he's made for himself with impeccably turned-out Astrid and her teenage daughter, Laura, Nick has kept only the slenderest family connection to his brother, Dave, who's stuck with the role of ambassador in a family that's long settled into cold war.

But then Ken decides that the year of his death has arrived, and thus kicks off an ill-conceived quest to reunite his family before he meets his fate. Bringing to this tinderbox just the spark it needs, Louise Dean sends up the whole clan, each of them fatally flawed yet saved by hidden grace, and illuminates with her incomparable acuity their clashes of generation, gender, class, and temperament, in a riotous and compassionate conflagration.

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About the Author:

Louise Dean is the author of three previous novels: Becoming Strangers, which was awarded the Betty Trask Prize in 2004 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, This Human Season and The Idea of Love. She lives in Kent, England with her three children.

From Booklist:

In this quintessentially British novel, Dean’s fourth (after The Idea of Love, 2009), cranky, foulmouthed octogenarian Ken is convinced he will soon die. He begins to harass his Cambridge-educated solicitor son, Nick, with 6 a.m. phone calls demanding that he draw up a will, despite the fact that they have been estranged for 16 years. Meanwhile Nick’s brother, Dave, ever the dutiful son, works to bring the whole family together, reaching out to their eccentric mother, whom Ken divorced 25 years ago. After one incredibly awkward Sunday dinner, complete with profanity-laced name-calling, and one frantic road trip, in which the father and sons bond together over their abject failure to complete their mission, the family does at last find a kind of fragile peace together. The Old Romantic is not so much concerned with plot as with the complexity of relationships—the difficulties of fidelity, the selectivity of memory, the love of family, no matter how deeply flawed its members. Dean mercilessly sends up the working class to hilarious effect even as she compassionately reveals, in fresh and vivid language, the primal desire to return home. --Joanne Wilkinson

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