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By Helen on 18-05-15
spoilt by the narrator
What disappointed you about Upstairs at the Party?
The narrator seems to believe she is acting in a melodrama rather than reading a book. I had to stop listening after 10 minutes because the narrator was so irritating.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By David on 16-08-14
Flawed and uneven, but brilliant in parts
This is a novel about university life in the 1970s, seen from the perspective of today. For one of that era ( I went to a new university at the same time) it is richly evocative, capturing both time and place, but more importantly how the world appeared to us then. This makes the first third utterly brilliant. Adele, a tough Liverpudlian, who is caught up in the world without ever internalising its assumptions, makes a great narrator, particularly when she is describing the seventies as if she were in them. When she and the story graduates, it is never quite the same. That is the author's intention - both because something dramatic happened there ( as prefigured in the title) which changes the lives of Adele and her small circle, but also because, with the possible exception of Rose, life somehow could never live up the promise of world-changing freedom that the new universities held out. Both may be true, but after they leave the narrative flounders and the reflections from the present day become somewhat sour and occasionally cliched. She allows her characters to age more quickly, certainly than my contemporaries have. Her description of their return to the University in their late fifties, makes them all sound old and more than a little decrepit, and her view of the period is relentlessly bleak. I know it's a novel, and each of the characters is a singular individual, but the author is very clearly making a statement about an era. Her earlier novel, 'We had it so good', which starts earlier and maintains its narrative drive over several decades, is a more balanced and nuanced portrayal of both the joys and the follies of our baby-boomer generation. It certainly struck more of chord with me. Read them both and make up your own mind.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful