Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones

  • The Good Father by Peter Prince
    Cape, 204 pp, £7.95, September 1983, ISBN 0 224 02131 1
  • Mrs Pooter’s Diary by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen
    Joseph, 208 pp, £7.95, October 1983, ISBN 0 7181 2339 5
  • Dandiprat’s Days by David Thomson
    Dent, 165 pp, £8.50, September 1983, ISBN 0 460 04613 6
  • The Dream of a Beast by Neil Jordan
    Chatto, 103 pp, £6.95, October 1983, ISBN 0 7011 2740 6
  • Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 by John Bowen and Eric Fraser
    Faber, 127 pp, £2.95, October 1983, ISBN 0 571 13170 0
  • The Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee
    Secker, 250 pp, £7.95, September 1983, ISBN 0 436 10297 8

Peter Prince’s admirable novel, The Good Father, is about a group of professional-class people in the London Borough of Lambeth, trying to see themselves as liberal and left-wing. They were students together in the late 1960s and are struggling to maintain in the 1980s the package of liberal values (or ‘received ideas’) which they shared so confidently in their youth. The trouble with such package deals is that when one item loses its authority the believer may throw out the whole lot, bag and baggage, baby and bathwater: he may rush to the opposite extreme, seeking out illiberal values to embrace with a fervour that embarrasses old conservatives. Bill Hooper, the hero of The Good Father, was once an excessively keen feminist: now, in his thirties, separated from his wife and denied custody of their four-year-old son, he becomes a fighter for men’s rights – and rather a dirty fighter, unchivalrous, ungentlemanly.

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