Adam Baron’s novel Blackheath is blackly comic and almost forensic in its detail: he lifts the roof on middle class urbanites who appear to have it all, examining the lives of two families in particular and fully exposing them to the reader. You see their thought processes take shape as they (often silently) voice their daily concerns; watch them manoeuvre for position with their partners, and sometimes the parents of their children’s classmates; see them weigh up compromises and what it will cost them or their partner in return, all while juggling child care, two careers, creative endeavours, sex, a family… all modern life.
Holding a mirror up to contemporary gender politics and exposing the flaws and failures of so-called equal parenting, Blackheath is a moving and sharply comic tale of life-after-children, revealing the awful truth at the heart of modern family life: love is not enough.
James has everything: a happy marriage to poet and fellow academic Alice and two children they both adore, sharing the childcare and fitting it around their work commitments. James loves his children intensely, but caring for them during the week makes him feel like a failure, especially when the suited-up bankers and lawyers of Blackheath pass him on the school run, heading for the station and their real lives in the city. When his wife’s star begins to rise, James is tempted back into his old career on the comedy circuit, looking for a way to cure his sense that something vital is missing.
As the two couples’ lives increasingly overlap, all four characters are thrown into turmoil, and the repercussions threaten to blow both families apart. Read more