Bought this book based on the cover and Amazon reviews. Before last month, I had never even heard of it. What a little gem! Swift makes great use of working class British dialect, and the character development is deep and perfectly paced. With each chapter, a little bit more is revealed, a layer is unraveled in the complex intertwining of these four friends/acquaintences (they are more deeply connected than previously thought, often through tragic or scandalous events). The action takes place over an afternoon, but the book covers 50 years. Got through it in a week. Great find, happy to keep it on my bookshelf.
This book is a gentle meditation on a group of people and how their lives interact. The book is about 4 working-class men on their way to scatter one of their friend's ashes at sea. We learn about their pasts together, the ways they impacted one another's lives, their thoughts and feelings about life and death and love and family. It's set in Britain, and the language is of working-class British whose slang doesn't hide their very real emotions and struggles. I thought this book was wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.
At its center is a group of men, friends since the Second World War, whose lives revolve around work, family, the racetrack, and their favorite pub. Now, the death of one of them, and the survivors task of driving their friend's ashes from London to the seaside town where they'llbe scattered, compels them to take stock. Through conversationand memory they trace the paths they have followed by choice and by accident: through war and its aftermath,through the dramas of their family lives and of their shifting relationships with one another.
"In a London pub called The Coach And Horses, four men gather. Most of them have been freinds for half a lifetime, having fought in the same war, drunk in the same pubs, and bet on the same horses. Now they have come together to deliver the ashes of a fifth man, Jack Dodds, to the sea. Their journey, which will take therm deep into their collective and individual pasts, lies at the center of Graham Swift's astonishingly moving novel of friendship, memory and fate."
"As Swift follows Ray, Vic, Lenny, and Vince on their errand - one whose solemnity is under cut by the participants' sheepishness and irrepressible humor - he braids their voices into a choir of secret sorrow and resentment, passion and regret. And what emerges is an elegy not only for Jack but for a vision of a changing England. Beautifully written, faithful to the rhythms of the human voice and the daily truths of human life and death, Last Orders is a triumph."
I haven't read the book, but I loved the movie based on this novel.