The Road Between Us
By Nigel Farndale
Oustanding writing, clear, elegant without resort to unusual or difficult language. Twin themes of past (1939) and present (Afghanistan, terror and ransom) collide over time with a series of connecting strands that are only gradually revealed (my sole complaint is that some are telegraphed a little clunkily – a cigar-smoking woman). Weaving through is the admixture of several kinds of love starting with homosexual eroticism (symbolised by the ambiguous nature of the Piccadilly Eros) and real sacrificial love, love within the family and a persistent nibbling at a more taboo transgressive love – incest.
The initial central characters of RAF office Charles and German art student Anselm generate (literally) the characters who will find their lives intertwined with their lost love. There is almost an ‘Who do You Think You Are?’ element to this story as we read the stories and time sequencing in both directions – clever and well executed.
There is no shortage of good writing setting scenes in war-time and contemporary Britain (complete with intrusive journalists), wartime Europe and concentration camps (spared little there) and the contemporary war-torn Middle East and its frequent inhumanities generating well-known ethical dilemmas surrounding ransoming (overt and covert).
I found this an engrossing tale with an almost head-spinning variety of influences which still managed to gel and satisfy. It should make a good movie.