Prospect Hill

Richard Francis

Fans of Jonathan Coe will love this extraordinary panoramic novel, which turns upon the whirligig of life that is Costford, a North Western town, in 1970.

Costford, a brash north of England town. It’s 1970 and young Trevor Morgan has a magical smile and large ambitions. But his marriage is in crisis, and he seeks help from an unexpected quarter: feisty middle-aged May Rollins. May is feeling the stress of living with the demented mother she has always hated. Strange things start happening: she spots a lollipop lady at eight o’clock on an August evening; her TV converts to colour of its own accord; and mother takes to wandering off, with murderous intent, when the minder, May’s stepdaughter Cherry, is not looking.

May and Trevor are political enemies, at odds over a controversial plan to build council flats at Prospect Hill, but their relationship takes a shocking – and ambiguous – twist. Meanwhile Art Whiteside, a predatory estate agent who believes in true love, complicates affairs on both town and home fronts.

With dazzling ingenuity, Richard Francis catches the whirligig of urban life at the very moment when contemporary society was struggling into being. His comic and poignant novel conjures up the fumbled negotiations we make between our public and private lives, evoking the pain and pleasure of husbands, wives, and lovers, of parents and children – and depicting a personal and communal quest for the meaning of home.

Reviews of Prospect Hill

    • ‘An inspired attempt at reinventing that time-limned genre, the English provincial novel.’ Independent
    • ‘Readers will like this. What makes Francis’s books so satisfying is his bracing mixture of cool observation of foibles with real tenderness for his characters.’ Sunday Times
    • ‘An extremely readable and very funny book. This is a world where everything is known, even the unexpected…it is reliable, warm, and inescapable.’ TLS
    • ‘Francis has a fine knack of giving voice to the voiceless…Stockport may not be the centre of the universe, but for Francis it is fertile soil and he seems happily rooted. “Prospect Hill” is further shining evidece that he has nowhere to stay but put.’ Guardian
    • ‘The prose combines close observations, Northern slang and fizzing but unforced one-liners to winningly breezy effect… A big, good-hearted piece of literary entertainment.’ Sunday Telegraph