Magazine article The Spectator

Something Filthy by Return

Magazine article The Spectator

Something Filthy by Return

Article excerpt

NOURISHMENT

by Gerard Woodward

Picador, £14.99, pp. 338,

ISBN 9780330518628

Gerard Woodward's Nourishment opens in second world war London. Tory Pace, a tired and drawn 'motherof-three and wife-toone', works alongside other patriotic but 'grey' women, packing gelatine for the war effort. One evening, she receives a letter from her POW husband, Donald, requesting a 'really filthy' reply, by 'return of post'.

At first, she feels unwilling and unable to respond. An affair with the dirty-talking owner of the gelatine factory, however, provides her with the requisite guilt-stricken motivation, and some excellent material.

The second half of the book then illustrates the effects of this wartime loosening of moral norms on the Pace family following Donald's return.

A published poet as well as a novelist, Woodward has a successful line in British domestic eccentricity. His trilogy of novels featuring the raffish and boozy Jones family, which includes the Booker nominated I'll Go to Bed at Noon (2004), in particular, received warm praise. With this, his fourth book, he has decided to stick with the basics of what has proved in the past a winning (or at least a nominated) formula. …

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