A Social Commentary Of The Year
Tales From Lindford by Catherine Fox is a contemporary novel looking back at 2020 from a birds eye view of the residents of Lindford. We drop in and out of their lives. It is the fourth book in the Lindchester series but can be read as a stand-alone.
It is a fascinating and comprehensive account of the feelings, highlights and lows of the year that COVID19 hit. It was certainly a year like no other. 2020 approached with such optimism, who could have foreseen a global pandemic?
Catherine Fox has cleverly constructed her tale. She hovered over the fictional houses and gardens of Lindford to reveal snippets of lives and thoughts of the time. I thought it was all very brilliantly done. With each step I was reminded of my thoughts on the year and its developments.
There were varying reactions to the year as everyone tried to cope the best that they could in the unprecedented times. Optimism gave way to stoicism as the year progressed. We became resigned to our loss of freedom. “It is what it is” was on many lips, mine included.
Just as Gone With The Wind (which I read last year) is a social commentary on the American Civil War period, Tales From Lindford is a social commentary on 2020. It is a book that should become a best seller and preserved for future generations to study and to ‘feel’ the emotions of the people of Britain.
Tales From Lindford is a brilliant offering from Catherine Fox.
I will leave you with a quote that leapt out to me:
“Newton’s third law of social media: for every parade, someone to rain on it.”
A word of caution: there is some language that some people may find offensive.
I received a free copy of the book from the publisher Marylebone House. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
About ‘Tales from Lindford’:
2020 was famously an ‘unprecedented year’. Now, in Catherine’s Fox’s ‘Tales from Lindford’, readers can relive this extraordinary year – at a safe and non-contagious distance – through the eyes and experiences of the people of Lindchester in this heartfelt novel, which was originally written as a series of blogs in real time in the midst of the pandemic. Bestselling author Katie Fforde praised ‘Tales from Lindford’ as ‘lyrical, compelling and full of insight’ while former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams commented that ‘Catherine Fox writes with immense compassion, unsentimental faith and an impressively undisciplined humour’.
Catherine Fox’s popular series The Lindchester Chronicles have been described as ‘the 21st century’s answer to Trollope’s Barchester’ and the first novel in the series, ‘Acts and Omissions’, was chosen as one of The Guardian’s books of 2014. The third book in the series left the people of Lindchester at the end of 2016 and was intended as the final book in the series – but 2020 gave Catherine an irresistible opportunity to return to Lindford, as she writes, ‘come with me, one more time, dear reader’. Fans of The Lindchester Chronicles will delight in the opportunity to revisit old friends and find out how the last 4 years have treated them, while newcomers to the series are in for a treat (with the opening dramatis personae providing a handy guide as to how the lead characters relate to each other).
January 2020 opens quietly enough in Lindford, amidst vague concerns about the Australian bush fires and a general feeling of exhaustion about Brexit. But soon, as Catherine writes, ‘quietly, with barely a jingle of harness, another horseman of the apocalypse sets out to ride in a distant province of China.’ As the months unfold and the coronavirus threat becomes increasingly close, real and deadly, Fox traces the impact on Lindfordshire’s bishops, priests, nurses, musicians, hairdressers, university lecturers, runners and schoolchildren as daily life as they know it is brought to a standstill, to be replaced by face masks, hand sanitizer, working from home, Zoom meetings, shielding, isolating, home schooling, furlough, bubbles, quarantine and lockdown. From the diary of 11 year old Jess to the increasingly incoherent ramblings of Fr Dominic’s elderly mother, we walk alongside the characters as they experience frustration, fear, anger, grief, hopelessness, loneliness and boredom. Yet, amidst the challenges brought by this extraordinary year and its ‘emotional concussion’, the community pulls together to support one another as best they can. Some households are full to bursting while other people spending lockdown alone, and the pandemic stretches some relationships to breaking point while breathing new life into others. And even coronavirus cannot stop some of the natural rhythms of life – the yearning for a baby, the growing up of a teenager, and the rediscovery of love when it was least expected.
Warm, witty and wise, ‘Tales from Lindford’ offers a master storyteller’s take on a year which none of us will ever forget.
About the author:
Catherine Fox is Academic Director of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her debut novel ‘Angels and Men’ was a Sunday Times Pick of the Year and the first book in the Lindchester Chronicles, ‘Acts and Omissions’, was chosen as a Guardian Book of 2014. Catherine is married to the Bishop of Sheffield and is a judo black belt.
Praise for ‘Tales from Lindford’:
‘Lyrical, compelling and full of insight. I found this very hard to put down.’
Katie Fforde, Sunday Times bestselling author
‘Catherine Fox writes with immense compassion, unsentimental faith and an impressively undisciplined humour.’
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
‘Catherine Fox’s glorious Lindchester series is the 21st century answer to Trollope’s Barchester – but Trollope was never so funny, so fundamentally kind, or so mischievously attentive to grace.’
Francis Spufford, author of ‘Golden Hill’ and ‘Light Perpetual’
‘These books are utterly unputdownable, gossipy, subtle and wise.’
Maggie Gee, novelist and Professor of Creative Writing, Bath Spa University