"Fortysomething" by Nigel Williams
A long-running soap opera star is about to be axed. And there ends the similarity with The Killing of Sister George. Nigel Williams' latest novel is set firmly in family land, where Paul Slippery, the forty-nine-and-a-half-year-old radio voice of Dr Esmond Pennebaker, has a working wife, Estelle, and three GCSE to degree level sons, named Ruarighy, Jakob and Edwin. Paul is undergoing some mid-life crisis, doesn't understand his wife's newfound independence, doesn't understand the shenanigans going on at the BBC, doesn't understand the intricate goings-on of his teenage sons, representatives of another species, and can't seem to remember when he last had sex. Although Williams throws in a lot more sex, and an Asian woman, much of Fortysomething belongs to a dated white middle-class sitcom world invented by Carla Lane, where the sexes and the generations are divided by mutual ignorance and incomprehension, and brought together only by a shared dependence on Waitrose food. Williams piles on plot after plot, and there's a good deal of comic misunderstanding, but the novel's humour derives mainly from its journal form, with Slippery seizing every available (and unavailable) moment to scribble his diary like some latterday Samuel Richardson heroine. Fast, furious, and even funny--for fortysomethings.