Nominated for the Booker Prize, this book is heralded as the first novel set in post-Brexit UK. Daniel and Elizabeth have been friends since she was a little girl and he moved into the house next door. Through a series of flashbacks we trace the development of their relationship and how it has reverberated through Elizabeth's adult life. Woven between them is the story of a real-life artist, Pauline Boty, a Pop Artist from the '60's and her missing artwork and the Profumo political scandel surrounding Christine Keeler.
All the layers/themes of the novel are like a collage, seeming unrelated but somehow sitting together on the page in a strange unison (Similar to the art of Pauline Boty). But while I enjoyed the unfolding story of Daniel and Elizabeth I did feel that the post-brexit setting wasn't particularly central to the book. It felt like a sideline which has been hyped up to PR the book and give it a USP. There were much stronger themes; love (in it's many different guises), repression, politics, nature and, perhaps the strongest, time. That we all experience time differently and no-one can really be sure how someone else experiences time.
But being an artist myself the most interesting part for me was the Pauline Boty angle. She was seen as beautiful and nothing else. Men were more interested in how she looked than the art she made. So when she tragically died young they all thought it was a terrible shame to lose someone so beautiful, ignoring the loss of her talent and condemning her to become a mere footnote in the history of art.
In parts the book did seem a little pretentious and disjointed with the author playing with words but overall I did enjoy the poetic nature of the narrative outside of these indulgent moments. It's the story which let it down for me. It was very something and nothing. With no real start or any kind of proper ending. Just a series of interlinked moments hanging there in time. I guess that is the point.