Holding a mirror up to contemporary gender politics and exposing the flaws and failures of so-called equal parenting, Adam Baron's 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.
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Amelia has everything: two perfect children, a successful husband who loves her, and a big house in London’s affluent Blackheath. So why does she wake up one morning with a distaste for her daughter and an unexplained attraction to James, a dad she sees in the playground at drop off?
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.
Rachel Cusk6 July 2016
Fresh, honest, very funny, startlingly relevant. His is the male perspective on the modern female coven, its repressed ambivalence, its ambiguous sexuality, its deadly territories of parenting, school gate and domesticity; that he renders that perspective artistically, personally and politically with such wit and intellectual grace makes his novel a rare and complex commentary on contemporary middle class values. The great male American novelists have written passionately about domesticity, parenthood, marriage; there has been no English equivalent, just a hangdog pseudo-comic ‘dad’ literature as disposable as it is dishonest. Adam’s book recalls Updike in his Rabbit years: sensual, involved, poetic, incorrect, and enthralling in its honesty.
Lincolnshire Life20 April 2016
Adam Baron's latest novel focuses on the lives of young middle class parents and is written in the type of lacerating, black comic style that finds its apex in the Patrick Melrose series by Edward St Aubyn. Baron's characters live relatively less privileged lives, however, and there is here more of the banality and frustration of workaday English life. More specifically, Baron trains his sight on the difficulties of shared parenting, developing a response to the effects of "have it all" aspirations among younger parents today. With raw and often unsavoury thoughts laid out on the page, Baron clearly intuits that the expectations of modern life mask a profound malaise in many and is not afraid of representing that sense through his characters.
Pamreader18 February 2016
Written with rapier sharp wit and insight... Blackheath is packed to the brim with intelligent, forensic and often hilarious insights into modern family life and love. This is a brutally honest novel that will have you cringing yet nodding in understanding, as James and Amelia put themselves through an emotional wringer as they lose their way in life and then find their way back to what’s really important. A clever, engaging, thought-provoking and highly entertaining read that gets under the complex skin of both sexes.View source
Brighton & Hove Independent9 February 2016
The way that Baron writes about the interior lives of the women in his book is astounding, and moving. This is an elegant and intelligent book that has some wildly funny moments and an ending that shocked me. I urge you to read it as I am hotly tipping it for my book of the year. Yes, it's that good.
The Bookbag2 February 2016
Blackheath reveals a truth without being pretentious or high falluting about it. In the real world as well as a literary version, even the most devoted couple is made up of two distinct people; each has secrets and battles relating to accommodating the tension between being an individual and being a partner. In this way, Blackheath is fascinating. In this way Blackheath is universal.View source
Nutpress1 February 2016
Adam Baron's 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. Baron creates the world of Blackheath so well that I felt as if I were snooping round lives and houses where I didn’t belong. And with each door he prised ajar, I felt myself sucked further and further in, getting closer and closer involved, or entangled, with the lives of his characters.View source
nudge: newbooks22 January 2015
It is refreshing to have a school gate novel written from the male perspective. Baron is particularly good on how even in an age of increasing equality the father at the school gate is still the oddity. The writing is spare, lean and clean and suffused throughout with this sense of unease, impending jeopardy, so that the climax of the story seems inevitable in its aftermath. An enjoyable addition to the genre.