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Perfidious Albion

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Perfidious Albion has the most gorgeous cover which, couples with a promising sounding blurb, sold the book to me. 

And having read it, I still think the cover is gorgeous. 

Sadly, the actual pages were a bit of a letdown. It is now many years since I left perfidious Albion. Since I left, the country has changed: the centre-left government has been replaced by a government of the far right; the Scottish referendum was stolen by lies; the European dream has died and xenophobia reigns supreme. The Little Englanders have won and are destroying all that I knew and valued. I stand by the maxim: nobody likes a Tory. So it is unsurprising that I did not enjoy spending 400 pages in the company of Tories – not even ones being held up for ridicule. 

We had the leader of an English separatist movement; we had a far right paramilitary force; we had corporate greeed, we had right wing bloggers and chat-show commentators. They were willing to foment discord, incite racial hatred, trample people and cheat them of their life savings. Yes, I can see the parallels between big business and political movements of the right – trying to trick the majority on false promises in order to further their own narrow interests. And setting this in middle England – Edmundsbury is a not-even-slightly disguised Bury St Edmunds – shows the transfer of power from the intelligentsia and the arts to knuckledraggers in crappy market squares paved in crappy red bricks, surrounded by crappy chain shops like Superdrug and Dorothy Perkins. 

God, has it really come to this?

The trouble I had with Perfidious Albion was that I couldn’t tell most of the characters apart; I did not believe in half of them – especially the social commentators and fake bloggers – and the sole voices of social conscience were weak. I did not believe in some of the central ideas including the whole internet privacy thing or “The Field”. I did not believe in the fear and outrage behind the web hijackers. 

That’s not to say there weren’t some good set pieces and astute commentary – particularly the exploitation of zero hours contracts. I kinda liked the vacuous dinner party conversations pontificating about the way to save the nation, much as I didn’t particularly believe in the characters engaged in these conversations. But it didn’t quite redeem a novel that was too long, too relentless in its depiction of right-wing thinking, and too naïve in its ridicule of such thinking. 

So – an interesting reading experience but one I probably regret. 



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