‘A meticulous and gripping reimagination of the Brighton bomb’ Observer, Best Novels of 2015
In September 1984, a man calling himself Roy Walsh checked into The Grand Hotel in Brighton and planted a bomb in room 629. The device was primed to explode in twenty-four days, six hours and six minutes, when intelligence had confirmed that Margaret Thatcher and her whole cabinet would be staying in the hotel.
Moving between the luxurious hospitality of a British tourist town and the troubled city of Belfast, and told from the perspectives of a young IRA explosives expert, the deputy hotel manager and his teenage daughter, High Dive is a taut and tender retelling of one of the most ambitious assassination attempts against the British establishment.
"Lee's powerful novel is an extraordinary performance: vividly written, painfully human and fully fleshing the inner lives of its characters." * Sunday Times * "High Dive did for the Brighton bombings what Garth Risk Hallberg's overhyped City on Fire attempted to do for the New York City blackout - it's a multivoiced epic that builds towards a stunning finale. I loved it." -- Alex Preston * Observer - Best Novels of 2015 * "Achingly good ... Satisfyingly tricky when it comes to speeding up and slowing down, keeping readers off balance, teasing them about when what's already irrevocable is actually going to happen ... At his best - and he is at it often - Lee displays a nimble metaphysical wit and a verbal ingenuity on a par with Martin Amis ... In High Dive, the ticktock means more than the boom... The novel's last, almost whispered word about the bombing's carnage is left to stand among the most devastating observations ever made about terrorism: "Someone had considered this fair". It is Jonathan Lee's great achievement to have written, on this of all subjects, one of the gentlest novels in memory." * The New Yorker * "Jonathan Lee [is] a wordsmith of incomparable eloquence...High Dive is a work of serious and thoughtful integrity." * Independent * "An ingenious and original mixture of the domestic and the political, set in the days leading up to the Brighton bombing of 1984. At its heart is a father-and-daughter relationship that feels uncannily real and wonderfully touching." -- David Nicholls * Observer, Summer Reads * "Achingly good ... on a par with Martin Amis ... In High Dive, the ticktock means more than the boom... The novel's last, almost whispered word about the bombing's carnage is left to stand among the most devastating observations ever made about terrorism: "Someone had considered this fair". It is Jonathan Lee's great achievement to have written, on this of all subjects, one of the gentlest novels in memory." * The New Yorker * "Hauntingly atmospheric ... Lee is quite brilliant at excavating the disappointment of characters constantly chasing lost opportunities." * Guardian * "Devastating ... Inspired ... We make so many complex emotional investments in the lives of Lee's characters that it takes a monk's restraint not to flip to the very end of the book before you get there." * New York Times * "High Dive is a novel so smart and compassionate and beautifully written that it asks for total immersion. A reader will hold her breath for long, perfectly-paced stretches, and she will surface, dizzied, at the end." -- Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies "The novel is full of gentle humour: its tones are mostly warm and compassionate...High Dive is a moving and charismatic novel...It succeeds, through its multiple sympathies and scrupulous empathy, on its own terms" * Financial Times * "Engrossing ... Effortlessly switching between Belfast and Brighton in stylist prose that perfectly captures the tension and tenor of the times, it's highly recommended." * Mail on Sunday * "Novels about terrorism aren't usually this tender. It's Lee's way of bringing home the cost of bloodshed ... A tragi-comic tale full of warmth and muddled humanity." * Metro * "High Dive is a fascinating look into a troubled past. In taut scene after taut scene, with a fine style and wit among the carnage, Jonathan Lee does service to history and the novel both." -- Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End "Lee masterfully ekes poetry out of everyday life...As a character study High Dive is faultless. Freya, Moose and Dan exist, you know them, they are gloriously and fully realized." * Stylist * "Lee has crafted an absorbing character piece that feels startlingly real. Even though the dread of the looming disaster is always there, the main characters' stories are given plenty of room to breathe and their mundane struggles with everyday life are extremely relatable. High Dive is funny, troublesome and poignant, and will cement Lee's reputation." * Herald *
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