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Titre : ANTHEM (SIGNED COPY)
Éditeur : Picador, London
Date d'édition : 2003
Reliure : Hard Cover
Etat du livre : Fine
Etat de la jaquette : Fine
Signé : Signed by Author
Edition : First Edition, First Impression.
Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. N° de réf. du libraire 9834
Synopsis : In 1952, in London's last great fog, a small boy, Henry Armstrong, is separated from his mother. Thirty years later, as a bandsman in the Royal Marines and bound for the Falklands, he still has not found her. Meanwhile, the life of Henry's childhood friend, shoe salesman Richard Roach, is in crisis. He is missing all of his targets; his feckless and impotent teenage son despises him; and his wife, Ellen, no longer bothers to mask her indifference when he returns each night to their home at the end of Anglefield Road. Richard wants to make things better somehow, but he has little idea where to begin. Richard's neighbour, Suzanne Plimsoll, on the other hand, just wants out: out of her marriage, out of the accusing stares of her stepdaughter, out most of all of Anglefield Road. For her, real life only exists onboard the ocean liner on which she works, her beloved Canberra. When the ship is requisitioned to transport troops to the Falklands and she volunteers to go along, she finally glimpses a means of escape. Freddie Millen's difficulties run, perhaps, less deep. Still, his obsession with lawns, has caused no small measure of strain to his marriage...Anglefield Road is a novel fearless in the scale of its ambition, as the lives of four families are changed and in some cases overturned by a dispute over a group of small, barren islands at the bottom of the world. It is a heartrending, also at times surprisingly amusing, story of the horrors of war - at home and abroad - and, finally, of a long delayed reunion that takes place in the most surprising of circumstances.
Critique: Tim Binding is a novelist ever open to the dramatic possibilities of how grand historical events can cause ripples that devastate ordinary communities. With Anthem things are little more diffuse, partly because, although this is primarily about the Falklands War, Binding weaves a further four instances from history into his tale. Only the inclusion of the very last event feels like an audacious plot twist too far.
The book's epicentre is Anglefield Road, a seemingly unremarkable suburban street in the UK. When it's first described Binding employs tellingly a series of nautical metaphors. Anglefield is "a liner, vast and twinkling, carrying the sleep dreams of pyjamaed husbands and night-dressed wives, their unforgiving sons and daughters." And continuing in a similar vein, "beyond where the Armstrongs, the Plimsolls, the Millens and the Roaches dwell, washing up against the bow of their long and narrow gardens, lies the uncharted sea of the railway embankment." The fate of the good ship Anglefield and all who sail on her quickly proves to be inextricably bound to that of the Canberra, the requisitioned liner journeying to the Falklands.
Anglefield resident Suzy Plimsoll and her husband Matty are members of its crew. For their neighbour Richard Roach, a shoe salesman with a Machiavellian boss to outwit, the Canberra inspires a marketing stunt that he hopes will prop up his flagging reputation. By a quirk of chance, of which this novel has more than its fair share, Binding's love of kismet is positively Dickensian on occasions--also aboard the Canberra as a bandsman is Richard's childhood friend Henry. (A twin life shaped by circumstance was a feature of Binding's earlier novel A Perfect Execution and the son of Jeremiah, the protagonist, has a cameo role here.) Richard and Henry were both Dr Barnardo's ball boys in the 1961 Wimbledon semi-final but Henry has connections of his own to Anglefield Road. At the age of six on a day trip to London, he became separated from his mother in the great fog of 1952. His only possession was a copy of A House at Pooh Corner inscribed with the words "This book belongs to Henry Armstrong and I live in Anglefield Road." This volume, as you might suspect, plays no small part in the novel's gripping dénouement in those "most surprising of circumstances".
Anthem is a bold work, gracefully written, full of tragedy, humour and pathos; Binding has a marvellous eye for detail, especially when it comes to character. Not all of it entirely convinces--for a novel set largely in 1982, the year when unemployment topped three million, no-one appears that perturbed by the idea of losing, or abandoning their jobs--but in its scope and ambition it's a British novel that can make a serious claim to beat those Great American classics at their own game. --Travis Elborough
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Description de la librairie : Private Collection