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Nostalgic, elegiac story about a Dutch family in the 1960s and their journey from innocence to experience The story of a family -- mother, father (ex-WWII pilot), twelve-year-old son, David -- who live above a toy shop in a small town on the windswept Dutch coast. On the same day that David finds himself listening to the toy shop owner complaining that he can't sell model aeroplane kits any more because kids nowadays are too lazy to glue all the pieces together, David's father quits his job in a fit of pique and pride. A few hours later, his mother comes home, having left her job too. So, David devises a plan -- and before the day is over the whole family is at home, putting model aeroplanes together. A wonderful, perfect summer ensues, suddenly interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected visitor, his father's old friend from the war. His arrival revives old feelings of loyalty, love and hatred -- and ensures that nothing will ever return to a perfect state again. Accessible, warm, funny and wise, this novel was a massive bestseller in Moring's native Holland.
A gem of a story, it has the fable-like appeal of a Miss Garnet's Angel (but without the middle-Englandness) or of Bernard Schlink's The Reader (but without the heavy moral overtone).The book is most reminiscent of J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country, the Booker Prize-winning English novel set just after WWI, heavy with nostalgia, evocative, melancholy. Moring's UK profile has gradually been gaining strength. Great reviews for In Babylon, last year's appearance at the Hay Festival and catching the attention of the literary editors ensures good media coverage for this novel. Moring is a wonderful storyteller, straightforward and compelling. He is not a difficult European author.
7 September 2010
(first published 5 February 2002)