This post is by Christobel Kent from Books | The Guardian
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A couple journey to the heart of Europe to unravel the roots of nationalism in this luminous upheaval of culture and history
After Pollard and Darkling, Laura Beatty’s third novel – if novel it be, for it regularly feels like something stranger and more elusive – opens in a harsh version of contemporary London. It is a “make-or-break place of thieves and cutthroats”, with street sleepers beneath glittering towers, and humanity nowhere recognisable. The narrator, a novelist, begins by reimagining the city as Dante’s dark wood, and is clearly herself in a state of florid breakdown: unhinged by her country’s divisions, talking to herself, imagining a bag lady on her doorstep to be one of her own characters from a previous book come to taunt her by singing “Rule Britannia!”
Though it hangs oppressively over the narrative, the word Brexit appears only once, halfway through the book, ...