The Speech by Andrew Smith – 5* Genius!
The Speech is a gripping and challenging novel that will thrill readers of historical and political fiction – and provides a unique snapshot into Britain’s recent turbulent social history.
His words threatened rivers of blood…and they fought him with hope….
April 20th, 1968: Enoch Powell, MP for Wolverhampton South West, gives a speech that shakes a community — and Britain — to its very core. Words that provoke, that divide …. that profoundly affect the lives of those they touch.
Mrs. Georgina Verington-Delaunay is an administrator working in the Conservative riding office of Enoch Powell. Frank and Christine are art students inadvertently caught in an undercurrent of intolerance. Nelson and his Aunt Irene are Jamaican immigrants striving to make a life for themselves in a turbulent atmosphere.
In the shadow of Powell’s speech, a violent crime brings these disparate characters together as they struggle to find their places in the swiftly changing society of 1960s Britain. Set against a background of ‘subversive’ music, radical fashions, and profound change in ‘moral values’, they attempt against all odds to bring a fair conclusion to an unjust investigation. As they work together against murky elements of self-interest and bigotry, they’re forced to confront their own consciences and prejudices, and the reader is taken on a compelling journey into the beating heart of a community in turmoil.
WOW! This novel makes for intense reading, even in 2016!
I think it is fairly obvious why this novel is appealing it features politics, race and racism. key issues in todays media, albeit slightly different.
The novel is written exceptionally well, it is detailed, educational and informative exactly what you want from this type of fiction.
The characters are a diverse mix and this is hugely appealing to me, so few books reflect modern society or even the society of the era. Nelson is extremely likeable and throughout the book, you are rooting for him and is struggle in racist Britain.
Enoch Powell is written very well, this is not a case where the author demonises a figure head to achieve a narrative. Enoch is shown to be a politician who’s grasp on race and immigration is self serving & majorly flawed. I think he represents the form of closeted racism & bigotry, obviously until the day he makes the speech and out’s himself, as such. Although I despised the Character and the belief systems he holds. The issue of immigration is one still being played out in media, even this very day! So I feel this book is an important form of breaking down the barriers and showing readers the sins of the past.
The last chapter really is the icing on the cake for me, it shows (despite media hype of pre-Brexit) how far Britain really has come in terms of race relations and multiculturalism. I was so glad the author had included this fast forward to the future type chapter.
Huge respect to the author for such a detailed, polished novel. a very thought provoking 5* read! (review from 2016)
* I received a Ebook copy via net galley in return for an honest review.