This is a book for people who like introspection. If you like seeing a family and a relationship (marriage) analysed in minute detail, this is the book for you. Perceptive and with a good deal of wry humour, it can keep you bound up in Conrad and Eleanor’s story for hours.
Conrad and Eleanor have been seeing each other for eleven months when Eleanor becomes pregnant. It is 1975. They are at Cambridge.
‘Annie says the people at the university clinic are good ‘ Eleanor tells him. It is sunny and they are sitting on the wall outside the pub looking down into the canal. Conrad watches a mother duck shepherding her brood in and out of the weeds at the water’s edge.
‘Good at what?’
‘Advice. Fixing it.’
‘Fixing what?’ he asks stubbornly, knowing perfectly well that his slowness will only make her more impatient.
‘Abortion, what do you think?’ Eleanor looks across at the gangs of other students sprawled around the tables. ‘Why are you being so dense?’
‘I don’t’ agree with abortion. I mean –‘ quickly, as she turns to face him, squaring up for the argument, ‘yes, a woman’s right to choose and all that, but unless it’s rape or something – I mean, within a relationship, shouldn’t it be discussed?’ His voice sounds craven in his own ears.