Middle-class melancholia has long been the subject matter of Patrick Gale’s fiction. Here he examines a familiar mid-life dilemma: “Did I make the right choice?” Laura Lewis, an accountant in her forties, has returned to Winchester to care for her elderly mother. It’s while taking “Mummy” to a hospital appointment that she bumps into Ben, a boyfriend from her Oxford days. Set over the course of a June day, this novel shows Laura (single), and Ben (married) caught between a rock, a hard place and a cathedral-close hotel. This may not be as substantial as the recent bestseller, Notes from an Exhibition, but Gale’s prose slips down smoothly.

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