Jonathan Coe on Bournville

Bournville, Jonathan Coe’s latest novel, ostensibly follows the life of Mary Lamb (née Clarke) from VE Day 1945, when she was a precocious young pianist, to the darkest depths of the recent pandemic, stopping off at some of the events that helped define (and redefine) Britain over the last seven decades. As we hop from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, to the 1966 World Cup, through jubilees and the death of Princess Diana, we live not only alongside Mary, but also her parents, her husband, her children and grandchildren, (and in a wider sense the British people as a whole) seeing these events through their eyes, and feeling their sense of excitement or despair at the changes and upheavals in their world.