4. ‘The Ghost’ by Robert Harris

While Mum was not what you’d call a fiercely political person, she was definitely an Independent reading, left of centre liberal with a healthy mistrust of the Establishment. She didn’t buy into conspiracy theories, but was enough of a realist to recognise that shady dealings, as covered in this novel, certainly happen.

Now, I love a good thriller, as did Mum. But this one honestly left me more than a little cold. Well written if a little ‘clunky’ after the last couple of books I have read, it has a potentially interesting storyline; the clandestine dealings between unscrupulous politicians and governments, their lies and deceptions, the impact of these on ordinary people, and the unsuspecting ghost writer who unravels the web of deceit woven by and around a British ex-Prime Minister and his wife. Unsurprising. Readers who lived in the UK during the Bush/Blair Gulf War period will find it even less surprising. And it certainly raised for me some interesting questions about the ‘Special Relationship’ in our current era of Trumpism.

What I did find surprising was the lack of engagement I felt. Perhaps I too have a perennial mistrust of the Establishment, so that although this is a work of fiction, I find it not impossible to believe things like this have happened and are indeed still happening in the corridors of power. And that as an individual, I can do little to alter the state of things save by exercising my right to vote, or sending off an email to my MP, or signing an online petition. And so, as with most of us, I just push on with my own small life and its demands and daily rhythms, trusting in the politicians to do the right thing, which is what I’m sure most of them went into politics wanting to do in the first place. Or perhaps not, reading this book.

So there you have it. Not perhaps the greatest book I have ever read, but an acceptable way to pass the time – I think this was one of Mum’s holiday reads, and I’d recommend it as a ‘passing the time waiting for a train or a plane’ type of book. Let me know if you’d like it and I’ll send it to you….