We all have parallel tracks running through our lives. This is a story of what happens when they collide, a psychological drama about a small group of women from disparate backgrounds who have grown to know each other through decades of protest campaigns from Greenham Common to Faslane Peace Camp. They have always kept their private lives separate until one of them decides to go on a journey to visit the others at home.
Eleanor is dying but she is telling no-one: not her grown-up children; not anyone in the town where she has spent one life as wife and mother; not her four best friends who have shared her other life of passionate political activity. Responding to their facile invitations, tossed out at her husband’s funeral, she sets off on a tour. She needs to cram as much as possible into this short, precious period of freedom.
Her 'protesting pals' (as her children call them) have a nostalgic allegiance to Eleanor as the chief of their elite little clan. They have shared tents at Greenham with her in the eighties and a police cell at Faslane in the nineties. But all have busy lives, with homes and businesses to run, lovers and husbands to satisfy, children and grandchildren to care for. None of them have ever visited each other’s homes before this. Indeed, they have shared an unspoken pact not to let back-home concerns or people intrude upon their protesting adventures together. But now, their lives and families become entangled in a way that shows how wise they were to keep them separate before.
Meanwhile, Eleanor’s daughter has met the husband of one of the ‘protesting pals’ at her father’s funeral and an unlikely relationship has developed through an internet chat-room. Then he makes a bid to bring it out into the real world. The resulting affair ends in disaster and seriously threatens the long-standing solidarity of the five friends.
As Eleanor’s illness goes into its final phase, the action intensifies and the everyday lives of the five friends becomes intertwined in a way that threatens the group’s very identity. By the dramatic climax, these lives and families have become entangled to strangulation point. But new bonds and alliances have also been created.
An uneasy compromise is cobbled together in time for Eleanor‘s funeral but will hold and at what price has it been bought?
The novel is a mixture of light and shade, combining comedy with heartache and social comment with satire. The author maintains a neutral voice and allows the characters to create the drama as they stand upon the page with solidity and depth.
Published: 2 December 2016
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