Masterful stories focus on the past

'The Last Word'  is rumoured to be based on the story of  author V.S. Naipaul
'The Last Word' is rumoured to be based on the story of author V.S. Naipaul

BAFTA-winning screenwriter and novelist William Nicholson has outdone himself with this sequel to ‘Motherland’.

‘Reckless’ is set largely against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. London is a complex social world: bachelor Rupert advises Mountbatten as the rhetoric escalates and governments wage a war of bluster; Pamela is 18, bored, beautiful, and desperate to fall in love but falls in with Stephen Ward and Christine Keeler instead; at 29, Mary lives anonymously, ashamed of the childhood visions of Jesus Christ that turned her into a child prophet in Ireland; Khrushchev and Kennedy scheme and count warheads.

It’s a masterful interweaving of the historical and the emotional.

As the political clouds gather, national fears hatch in backstreet conversations, Pamela sails giddily out of her depth, marriages falter with delicate ambiguity, spiritual demons are laid to rest, and love and secrets bleed into the present.

I raced through the 500 pages in 24 hours; full marks.

Reckless by William Nicholson is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £16.99 (ebook £10.99).

Hanif Kureishi is known for producing exceptionally well written, controversial works that cover the issues of sexuality, race and immigration.

‘The Last Word’ sticks to these themes and follows Harry Johnson, an upper class, womanising writer who is attempting to write the biography of the author Mamoon Azam, revealing his sordid past and the truth about his sadistic affairs.

The novel is rumoured to be based on the story of author V.S. Naipaul, who like the fictional Mamoon, was exposed as being a deplorable person by his biographer. Kureishi has denied this is the case, but the similarities are too obvious to ignore.

The plot is laden with references to Kureishi’s own life as well of that of Naipaul, in a gripping, somewhat shocking and darkly funny tale. With the hype still building, this is set to be another of Kureishi’s most memorable works.