Here We Are
Mr B's review
An atmospheric and claustrophobic novella centred on the world of 1950s seaside entertainment. A complex emotional web between a compere, a magician and his assistant is revealed as cunningly as a sleight-of-hand, with shifts in narrator and time proving no-one ever knows the whole story.
‘A quietly, devastating, magical novel’ Daily Telegraph
‘Beautiful, gentle, intricate… Here We Are smuggles within the pages of a seemingly commonplace tale depths of emotion and narrative complexity that take the breath away.’ The Observer
It is Brighton, 1959, and the theatre at the end of the pier is having its best summer season in years. Ronnie, a brilliant young magician, and Evie, his dazzling assistant, are top of the bill, drawing audiences each night. Meanwhile, Jack – Jack Robinson, as in ‘before you can say’ – is everyone’s favourite compere, a born entertainer, holding the whole show together.
As the summer progresses, the off-stage drama between the three begins to overshadow their theatrical success, and events unfold which will have lasting consequences for all their futures.
Rich, comic, alive and subtly devastating, Here We Are is a masterly piece of literary magicianship which pulls back the curtain on the human condition.
‘With a wizardry of his own, Swift conjures up an about-to-disappear little world and turns it into something of wider resonance’ Sunday Times
‘There’s nothing extravagant or showy about Here We Are . . . The book’s power comes precisely from the fact that it performs its magic in front of your eyes, leaving nowhere to hide . . . you wonder how he does it.’ Financial Times
‘As with all his books, it’s the moments of quiet, undramatic poignancy that stay with you’ Sunday Express
‘He tells simple, truthful stories about what feel like real people. Here We Are is a welcome addition to a proud legacy.’ The Big Issue
The variety of voices and its historical and emotional reach are so finely entwined, it is as perfect and smooth as an egg. Passages leap out all the time, demanding to be reread, or committed to memory… It is perhaps too simple to say that Swift creates a form of fictional magic, but what he can do with a page is out of the ordinary, far beyond most mortals’ ken.’ Rosemary Goring, The Herald
‘Here We Are is a subtle portrait of a vanished world, with moving passages about the problems of wartime evacuees returning to impoverished London life after the wonders of the countryside.’ The Independent
‘In Here We Are, Swift does not just dwell on the pivotal moments of our lives, but traces their shockwaves both forward and back. Moving seamlessly from pre-war to post, from the events of one illusory, youthful summer to the present, we are given candid access to the innermost reflections of three people who loved and betrayed each other. The end result is the stuff of life, an enduring mystery that Ronnie, Evie, Jack – that we all – must live with. I thought it was wonderful.’ Joseph Knox, author of Sirens
Praise for Mothering Sunday:
‘Bathed in light; and even when tragedy strikes, it blazes irresistibly… Swift’s small fiction feels like a masterpiece’ Guardian
‘Alive with sensuousness and sensuality … wonderfully accomplished, it is an achievement’ Sunday Times
‘From start to finish Swift’s is a novel of stylish brilliance and quiet narrative verve. The archly modulated, precise prose (a hybrid of Henry Green and Kazuo Ishiguro) is a glory to read. Now 66,
Swift is a writer at the very top of his game’ Evening Standard
‘Mothering Sunday is a powerful, philosophical and exquisitely observed novel about the lives we lead, and the parallel lives – the parallel stories – we can never know … It may just be Swift’s best novel yet’ Observer
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