Reasons why I wanted to read SERIOUS SWEET: it was long listed for the Booker Prize, it is based in London and one of the characters is described as being a bankrupt accountant. Three things that made me hope for a happy relationship.
All the action in Serious Sweet takes place over the course of one day. We start at dawn on Telegraph Hill and end there twenty-four hours later. I have a special affection for the views from South East London’s hilltop parks, unlike the views from Parliament Hill Fields or Hampstead in the north they don’t get a lot of attention and so seem like your own private view. During the course of the day we skip from Chiswick to Whitehall to Mayfair to Kensington and London Bridge. Pivotal moments in Serious Sweet take place in Shepherds Market, a place that also feels secret and special, I am sure that I have spent time in the coffee shop that our hero and heroine go to. London is beautiful in this book.
Serious Sweet has to two main characters; Jon, a divorced 59-year-old civil servant and Meg, the bankrupt accountant of a similar sort of age. We get to spend lots of time in their heads. Both of them are in a far from happy frame of mind. We flip from Jon’s misery to Meg’s misery. Neither of them seem to be making any headway toward a happier place. Neither of them seem connected to each other in any kind of way. It is over halfway through the book before the connection that may bring them together becomes apparent.
As a portrait of misery, Serious Sweet is very good. The trouble is that I just didn’t care about either of the main characters. Jon seems like a good man, but there was nothing about him that made me hate him or love him – just deep indifference. Meg is flawed but a good person at heart but that’s it. I wanted to shake both of them and tell them to stop moping around. For me London is the real star of Serious Sweet and what kept me turning the pages to the end.
DISCLAIMER: I was sent a PRC copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
SERIOUS SWEET by A L Kennedy
Published by Jonathan Cape
Hardback £17.99, Kindle £9.99