Tomorrow by Graham Swift

Pity Mike in Graham Swift’s matriarchal nocturnal reflections of his wife Paula’s monologue as he spends the entire 300 pages fast asleep and worse still being talked about as though he wasn’t there. Paula’s internal monologue concerns her decision to spill a long held secret from her two children who have just turned 16. If I say her children rather than Mike and Paula’s children you’ll get the picture. This somewhat underwhelming revelation comes as no surprise since the narrative is littered with hints about the children’s true parentage. This secret is how Swift has framed Tomorrow as Paula then fills in all the family affairs and background in a matter of fact sort of way in everyday language which adds to its authenticity. The detail of ordinary family life is where Swift’s prose are at their best. It begins with Mike meeting Paula back in 1966 and takes us through to the infertility clinic in the 1990s.

“Your father got into bed with me one night in Brighton nearly 30 years ago and, though the place and the room and the bed have changed from time to time, he’s never got out.”

The early days of their courtship, the backstory of Mike’s father and uncle and the prisoner of war camp saga, the family’s lost cat and washing up after numerous Christmas dinners make this a charming and intimate story even if it holds little drama in its quiet reflective reminiscences.

Harry Mottram

Tomorrow was first published by Picador in 2007.

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