by Mark Gartside (Pan Macmillan) ISBN: 978 0 230 75989 3
There are not many novels that deal with single fathers or delve into parenthood from a male point of view.
What Will Survive tells the story of Graham, a lad from the wrong side of the tracks in Thatcher’s Britain, who meets posh girl Charlotte at a party. Although they don’t marry, she falls pregnant and they make a go of things.
When baby Michael is a year old, Charlotte dies tragically and Graham turns to alcohol to cope.
With the support of his family and friends, he manages to turn his life around as a successful account, and tackles the role of raising Michael alone, doing his best to protect, nurture and love the child.
However, as Michael becomes a teenager, things seem to come full circle. Michael becomes involved with a girl from a poorer part of town. She also has a violent ex-boyfriend who harasses Michael and, eventually, Graham himself until it looks as if another tragedy will unfold.
What Will Survive is a tearjerker in the Nicholas Sparks and David Nicholls mould. However, Gartside writes with a clear, direct and honest style that keeps the soapish plot believable and from straying into mawkish romance.
An intelligent, emotional novel for men and women.