This is a really beautiful book, I was hooked as soon as I read the first page simply describing the sound of a city at night. This tells the story of various people all living on the same English street who are joined together in a tragic event on one day. The characters are not referred to by name but their house number. Every other chapter tells the story from different perspectives of people on the street, such as the lovely old couple, the widowed father, the painfully shy young man. These are interspersed with remembrances written in the first person by the girl in number 22 who tries to come to terms with the tragic event and a dilemma in her life.
McGregor uses beautiful, poetic language to describe everyday occurrences. The Guardian and some other readers have slated it, saying nothing happens or that it is a poor imitation of Mrs Dalloway but I actually like it more. I love the beauty of the descriptions of ordinary streets or the rain and his observations of the complexity of human relationships. He refers to the isolation that the characters often feel; “She never said anything to me, not really, not when it mattered”.
This book keeps you hooked as you try to work out what the terrible event could be and there is a twist at the end of the book, which makes you want to go back and read it all over again. I will definitely be reading more of Jon McGregor’s books in the future.