The Old Romantic
By Louise Dean
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594487798, 352pp.)
Publication Date: February 17, 2011
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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.
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.