Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Heartland by Anthony Cartwright

DATE PUBLISHED: 2009 DATE READ: May 2009 NOTES: Set in the midlands, this is a story of politics, football, family strife and love. Two football games are described throughout – the 2002 World Cup match between Argentina and England and an important Sunday-league match between a BNP funded team and the local mosque. The council elections loom and Jim worries that he will lose his seat to the BNP. Rob, his nephew, has problems of his own. Glenn, a family friend, is now committed to the BNP thus causing a rift in relationships. Adnan, an old school friend of Rob, has disappeared and rumour says he has gone to Pakistan to join the Mujahadeen. The structure of the book is fairly complex – no separate chapters, just sections of First Half, Half Time, Second Half and Final Score. The accounts of the two football matches flow into each other – so you have to keep alert! I also found it difficult at first to keep track of all the characters and their relationship to one another – solved this by making a list. However this book is well worth sticking with. It gives a good picture of a working class area in the present time. It is especially good on the lost dreams and fading ambitions of the two ex-footballers and on the secrets that are held by so many. And it would have been so easy to turn the whole story into a “racists versus good folk”. He refuses to fall into this trap – the characters are nuanced rather than good and evil. And you don’t need to be a football fan to enjoy this book!

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