In Praise of Follett

John Sutherland

  • The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
    Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp, £5.95, October 1980, ISBN 0 241 10492 0
  • Joshua Then and Now by Mordecai Richler
    Macmillan, 435 pp, £6.95, September 1980, ISBN 0 333 30025 4
  • Loosely Engaged by Christopher Matthew
    Hutchinson, 150 pp, £4.95, September 1980, ISBN 0 09 142830 0
  • Imago Bird by Nicholas Mosley
    Secker, 185 pp, £5.95, September 1980, ISBN 0 436 28846 X
  • A Quest of Love by Jacquetta Hawkes
    Chatto, 220 pp, £6.50, October 1980, ISBN 0 7011 2536 5

Of the novels under review here, Ken Follett’s will sell most. Over the last five years the author has assumed Forsyth’s fitfully-worn mantle and established himself as the world-wide super-seller. The Key to Rebecca will follow Eye of the Needle (1978) and Triple (1979) as a surefire triumph. He is now one of a select band of novelists – Forsyth, Maclean and Higgins are others – at the golden nucleus of the fiction industry. Welshman by origin, Follett is now cosmopolitan and corporate for business reasons. (I notice, incidentally, that The Key to Rebecca is © Fine Blend NV. Are the coffee people setting up against the sugar people who own the James Bond copyright?)

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