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Serious Sweet by A. L. Kennedy
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Serious Sweet (2016)

by A. L. Kennedy

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
In which my love/hate relationship with A. L. Kennedy's work continues apace. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Oddly, a book that seems to work both because and in spite of its incessant stream-of-consciousness passages.A slow starter that carries you for awhile on insight and humor alone,but as always, Kennedy cuts like a knife. Meg, perimenopausal, a former accountant--bankrupt, bad combination--and recovering alcoholic, works at an animal shelter, struggles through the day, each moment an attempt to regain her footing. Jon, 59 and divorced, is leaking government secrets from his job, and has otherwise employed himself writing affectionate letters to needy women: "Expressions of affection and respect delivered weekly." Meg sees his ad. "They [the letters] had seemed a necessity, not a luxury or a risk." A bit of a slog at times, but with rewards.

"I am in progress. What more can anyone ask? I'm underway." ( )
  beaujoe | Oct 7, 2017 |
A weird book. Our two protagonists share the stage, but the balance seems tipped towards the more boring Jon, a civil servant motivated by, er, well... it emerges late on, out of nowhere, and comes to nought. Meanwhile, Meg is far more interesting and her dark past, hinted at from the outset, is revealed in a far more realistic and logical manner. The vignettes of London life throughout are great, but the reason for their inclusion - again, explained at the end - seems contrived. Kennedy captures London, and loneliness, but I was infuriated by too many things to really enjoy this fully. ( )
  alexrichman | Jul 6, 2017 |
Jon is a middle-ranking civil servant, unhappy in his personal and professional lives. Meg is bankrupt accountant eking out an existence as a admin worker for a charity. Both are inherently nice people but neither is a wild character and both have flaws. Over the course of a day the novel follows Jon and Meg in their separate lives and as they meet.

There is a lot to like about this book, the premise of following two individuals one the course of a day is reminiscent of Joyce's Ulysses but is set in the here and now. Both characters are not sugar-coated - Jon is a little pompous and Meg a little moany - but that makes the story more believable and the setting in modern day London is spot-on. This book has been short-listed for the Booker Prize and it is easy to see why, however that also is its downfall for me. There is not a lot of humour in the story and I find the prose rather overblown at times, that no doubt appeals to literary judges but it detracts from what is essentially a pleasant read. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
I wasn’t sure if I just didn’t click with this angry experimental novel, if I missed its subtlety, or whether it just needed a serious edit. ‘Serious Sweet’ by AL Kennedy is about one day in the lives of two troubled Londoners, Jon and Meg. The set-up is intriguing. First we are shown a family on a Tube train, the baby daughter is scarred, the family Arabic in appearance. Next we meet Jon, a civil servant. Pages are dedicated to his rescuing of a baby blackbird tangled in twine. At first, I was touched by the delicacy of his situation and the anxiety of the hovering mother blackbird. Then I became bored with Jon’s internal monologue. Thirdly, we go with Meg to an undefined gynaecological appointment. More internal monologue.
The timeline is confusing. Everything supposedly takes place in the course of one day but there is so much remembering of past events by Jon and Meg, separated by short scenes of seeming unrelated people, at times I lost the will to read on. Why did I? Because it is AL Kennedy and I loved her edition of short stories, ‘All the Rage’, so I was prepared to stick with it. But the stop-start stream of consciousness thoughts were often boring and inexplicable. I missed and forgot multiple references. Either the author or publisher or both were not sure how to describe this book – politics (both Jon and Meg rant), self-help, alcoholism recovery, romance or a spy/thriller. I was almost expecting a terrorist bomb. The mystery actually hangs on whether Jon and Meg will meet. They do, finally [at 46% on my Kindle] meet by letter.
It is a long book, 528 pages, which could be so much shorter and tighter. There were moments of clever, beautiful description and thoughts which made me smile, some made me chuckle, but there were others which made my eyes skip to the next paragraph. I finally got it at around 75% and read the last quarter quickly.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Jan 7, 2017 |
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Book description
A good man in a bad world, Jon Sigurdsson is fifty-nine and divorced, a senior civil servant in London who hates many of his colleagues and loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts.

Meg Williams is a bankrupt accountant―two words you don’t want in the same sentence, or anywhere near your résumé. She’s forty-five and shakily sober, living on Telegraph Hill in London, where she can see the city unfurl below her.

Somewhere out there is Jon, pinballing around the city with a cell phone and a letter-writing habit he can’t break. He’s a man on the brink, leaking government secrets and affection for a woman he barely knows as he runs for his life.

Poignant, deeply funny, and beautifully written, Serious Sweet is about two decent, damaged people trying to make moral choices in an immoral world, ready to sacrifice what’s left of themselves for honesty and for a chance at tenderness. As Jon and Meg navigate the sweet and serious heart of London―passing through twenty-four hours that will change them both forever―they tell an unusual and moving love story.
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A good man in a bad world, Jon Sigurdsson is 59 and divorced: a senior civil servant in Westminster who hates many of his colleagues and loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts. A man of conscience. Meg Williams is 'a bankrupt accountant - two words you don't want in the same sentence, or anywhere near your CV'. She's 45 and shakily sober, living on Telegraph Hill, where she can see London unfurl below her. Somewhere out there is safety. Somewhere out there is Jon, pinballing around the city with a mobile phone and a letter-writing habit he can't break. He's a man on the brink, leaking government secrets and affection as he runs for his life. Set in 2014, this is a novel of our times. Poignant, deeply funny, and beautifully written, Serious Sweet is about two decent, damaged people trying to make moral choices in an immoral world: ready to sacrifice what's left of themselves for honesty, and for a chance at tenderness. As Jon and Meg navigate the sweet and serious heart of London - passing through 24 hours that will change them both for ever - they tell a very unusual, unbearably moving love story.… (more)

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