Alison Kennedy is an immensely talented novelist who has described a long day in the lives of two very challenged people in a way that is both serious and sweet: Serious Sweet [New York: Little A, 2016] is the latest demonstration of her literary skills.
Kennedy has the signature style of conveying the whole scene from the multiple points of view of a narrator and both the outer and inner thoughts of her protagonists. Plot spoilers are forbidden in these blogs so you must, really must, read the book to slowly uncover the stories and back stories of Meg, a bankrupt accountant (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) with other problems, and Jon, an unhappy civil servant with a talent for choosing the right words that is almost as good as the author’s. It is during the run-up to an election so Jon must not only be non-partisan but must choose his words with even greater care. Kennedy’s storytelling skill has the reader hanging off the occasional cliff and never sure how the next hours and minutes of the day will unfold. She also drops in, like grace notes or musical miniatures, the occasional sprinkling of word pictures that spice the narrative effectively.
Events, with conflicts and resolutions, drama and lyrical passages, tension and release, unfold across one day in their two lives. Since the author makes them such intensely real people, the reader is caught up in their stories from the start. The book reminds me of her two characters in her earlier book, Paradise, but Serious Sweet is writing on an even higher plane. One can become seriously addicted to Alison Kennedy’s novels. [See my earlier blogs on Kennedy.] In this particular case, ignore the seriously awful cover (for which the publisher is entirely to blame) and get stuck into the book. One of the best I have read this year.