Europa. Oct. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781609459420. $28. F
The enlightened planners of Bournville, a model village on the outskirts of Birmingham, England, envisioned a place that would not only house the workers of the Cadbury chocolate company but also enrich their lives with parkland, gardens, and green spaces for exercise and good health. Mary Lamb, whose father works at Cadbury, makes her first appearance at age 11, sitting by the radio listening to the king and Winston Churchill proclaim VE Day. She is last seen in failing health, struggling to connect with family on Skype during COVID isolation. In the years between, Mary works as a music teacher and raises three sons with a narrow-minded husband whose racist and homophobic attitudes don’t soften over time.
VERDICT Bookended by the events of March 2020, when the world went into pandemic lockdown, the novel lands lightly on the major happenings of British life, from the queen’s coronation to Diana’s funeral and the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Coe (Middle England) deftly encapsulates 80 years of British history in this tender portrait of a woman, based on his mother, who lived through it all.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing