Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/
Judith has been reading Ardent Justice by Peter Taylor-Gooby
It could be seen churlish to be in any way negative about Ardent Justice, especially as the reader is told up front that the book is endorsed by Polly Toynbee and that the book is inspired by such eminent authors as Zoe Fairbairns and Lionel Shriver. And that all profits will go to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. But the mention of this somehow grated on me; it was as though I was being challenged to find any fault in the novel.
So, gripe over and having said that I will try to be as balanced as I can in this review.
Starting with the Blurb. There are too many small details in the second paragraph that is more or less repeated in the last. I’m not sure the second paragraph is needed. Hmm…
I enjoyed parts of the book. It’s an interesting, intricate plot and, on the whole, I did like the author’s writing style.
Endorsed as a feminist thriller, I can see why Ade is the strong protagonist and Paul a secondary character. But, for me, these characters didn’t come to life as I would have liked them to. Told from the perspective of Ade, I didn’t feel the anger in her that was warranted, with all that happens in the story.
There is also a lot of emphasis on how small and vulnerable Paul is which would have been all right but constant reference to this felt odd in comparison with him being portrayed as a protector of the homeless and a trouble maker by the police.
And I didn’t feel that the two characters formed a realistic relationship.
The dialogue attributed to Ade felt more like ‘telling’ instead of her talking and the internal dialogue was too stilted, too correct in the structure of the syntax, although the dialogue of other characters was good.
The descriptions of the settings gave a good sense of place and although the dreams sections slowed the action they were evocative and did sometimes reveal the turmoil of the protagonist’s mind.
I was in two minds about the ending; the hope that the two characters would be finally able to provide care for the homeless was uplifting but the knowledge that there would still be corruption and sexism in the City of London and that nothing could stop it was depressing.
I think the book would benefit from tighter editing.
All in all this book wasn’t really a book for me but will, I think, appeal to readers who enjoy, the cut and thrust of a city’s financial shenanigans.
Ade is a tax-inspector. She hates the City of London. She hates the endless corruption, the bland assumption that tax is for the little people. She hates the casual sexism, the smug self-assurance, the inviolability of the men she deals with, and the cold certainty that nothing you can do will ever touch them.
She finds herself in the world of the rootless, marginal street homeless who live meagre lives in the shadow of the office blocks that house the rich. She meets Paul, an Occupy activist who works with homeless people. As their love for each other grows, they find real fulfilment in fighting for the rights of ordinary people, such as Gemma, a homeless single parent.
Ardent Justice is a gripping feminist thriller, endorsed by Polly Toynbee, the leading Guardian columnist. It tells the story of Ade’s struggle against the City and for her own integrity, and of her love for Paul, and of how hard it is to live a morally good life in a corrupted world. It has been inspired by Zoe Fairbairns and Lionel Shriver and will appeal to fans of character-led thrillers. Profits will be donated to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity.
“Good to find a novel with a strong social message about the way we live now”
Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
About the author
My novels deal with how people live their lives in a diverse globalised capitalist world. In ‘Ardent Justice’, Ade struggles against the corruption of the City of London, where high finance and street homelessness flourish cheek by jowl. In ‘The Baby Auction’ Ed and Matt struggle to lead a passionate, humane and generous life in a world dominated by the market.
In my day job I’m an academic. My research shows how market capitalism generates inequalities between haves and have-nots and promotes a corrosive individualism that stunts our capacity for empathy, charity and love.
I enjoy hill-walking, riding my bike, holidays and looking after my grand-daughter (not in that order). I became interested in social policy issues after working on adventure playgrounds, teaching, claiming benefits and working in a social security office in Newcastle. I’ve worked in the UK, most European countries, Canada, the US, China, Korea and Japan, Australia and South Africa.
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