Last Days In Cleaver Square

Last Days In Cleaver Square


Let there be no more of this clucking and wheedling. Oh Pa, are you sure? Or: Oh Francis, is this really a good idea? Let me be clear. I am always sure, and it is always a good idea.'

An old man is sleeping fitfully. It's too hot. The air is thick with Spanish Jasmine floating in from his overgrown garden. And he's not sure whether he'll be woken by General Franco sitting on the end of his bed.

It's 1975 and Francis McNulty is nearing the end of his life but feeling far from peaceful. A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, he is tormented by grief and guilt about a brief, terrible act of betrayal from that time; and he's started seeing his old nemesis on the street, in the garden and now in his bedroom. Neither he nor his daughter Gillian, who lives with him in Cleaver square, know what to do.

When Gillian announces her impending marriage to a senior civil servant, Francis realises that he must adapt to new circumstances - and that the time has come to confront his past once and for all.

Our Review

Last Days in Cleaver Square was a treasure of a book. The style of writing took some getting used to but once I did, I flew through it.

Francis McNutty is a loveable rogue but as a narrator he is somewhat unreliable. It is hard to characterise what this book is about because it covers so many different things.

It is 1975 and Francis is nearing the end of his life and he is making sure everyone knows it. Francis is a veteran of the Spanish civil war and recently he has been seeing Franco everywhere, in his garden, on the street and even in his bedroom. He is also frequently thinking about an event early in his life that torments him still and fills him with feelings of guilt.

The protagonist reminded me fiercely of my grandad, in particular his propensity for tall tales and ability to hold court for an audience.

This book is about many things, but it is essentially a study in the trials of ageing and the feeling of being diminished. He experiences the feeling of being considered less reliable because of his age but in turn his age means his memory isn’t what it was and that in turn makes him less believable.

“Age withers one in so many ways.”

Last Days in Cleaver Square is humorous, well-written and unique and I highly recommend it.

This is great for fans of Hendrik Groen.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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