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The inert roused

WHATEVER you think of Beyond Reach? by John Madeley (Longstone Books, £9.99 (£9); 978-0-9554373-7-3), you have to ask why it has been written. This is because the author is better known for articles and books about poverty and development issues.

Is this an attempt at a serious campaign book disguised as a novel and aimed at reaching those who will never read the author’s obviously worthy books?

This first and maybe only novel features characters obsessed with poverty and development issues. There is a top civil servant who dis­guises herself when off duty, and a Christian immigrant concerned about poverty in Britain.

The story is set entirely during 2005, when there was a series of campaigns which led to huge demonstrations out­side the G8 summit in Scotland.

The leading character is a nurse, Sara, who suddenly takes up cam­paigning. She is married to a man obsessed with ball bearings, which leaves his wife free to attempt an affair with the curate, who has an improbable list of pre-ordination girlfriends.

When arrested, the assistant priest is fortunate to be confronted by a young police constable who quotes from choral matins rather than charging him.

Sometimes its feels that the work is being padded out with lists or chunks of key speeches delivered by real people. I suspect that Sara’s re­ports to her local paper reflect John Madeley’s views at the time of the great events of 2005.

Most satisfying is the thorough research, which makes the descrip­tions of demonstrations and other events seem credible.

Leigh Hatts is editor of In SE1, a South Bank arts magazine.

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