The book is based around a garden square of houses in central London, an exclusive neighbourhood where all of the houses look the same, everything is pristine and nobody dares to step out of line. It’s a terribly middle class setting, the kind where everyone secretly hates each other, but they carry on the pretense of being good neighbours, inviting each other around for supper parties (not dinner – that’s so common!) and keeping up appearances for each other.
Of course, as with most real lives, the perfect exterior hides a lot of imperfections. Affairs, debts, more affairs… you get the picture!
The residents of the Square decide during a residents’ meeting to hold a talent show to raise money for some communal fencing. The book charts the preparations for the show, the show itself and the aftermath.
This is not one of those suspense thrillers where you’re turning the page, breathless to know what happens next and who dunnit – but it definitely does hold the attention. It’s wonderfully written, with a super-sharp wit and keen observations. The mention of a certain brand of sparkling water, for example, made me chuckle as I know people who buy that particular brand. The idea of making a nice pot of fresh coffee for dinner guests, but handing the “staff” a jar of instant to deal with themselves; fascination with being on TV; looking down one’s nose at a neighbour who weighs a little more, whose hair is less than perfect, who doesn’t bother with designer sandals in the latest style. It’s all there, and it’s brilliant to read.
This book is a perfect Summer read. Millard has manage to perfectly mix a book that doesn’t require a lot of concentration or thinking, with one that grabs the attention and keeps you reading. It’s filled with gossip and scandal, and I think everyone will recognise someone they know (or wish they didn’t) in this book.
I love the fact that although filled with middle class drama, the book doesn’t pander to the need for ridiculous outrageousness. Although in parts slightly preposterous, one gets the feeling that everything that goes on in this book is probably going on in communities all over the country right now. I also love that it’s just a glimpse of life in the Square, and the feeling that once the book is finished, things in the Square will go back to how they were before – with a few minor differences!
I am delighted to have a copy of The Square to give away. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below…
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The Square is available on Saturday 1st August in print or ebook.
Thanks for reading.