I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say this this is the most disturbing, the most enthralling, and one of the best written books I have pulled from Mum’s library this year. It is astonishing, like every book of Lionel Shrivers I have read, and it seemed to me to have a particularly deep relevance given the current circumstances globally – at the time of writing, we are nine months into the Covid-19 pandemic – who among us really saw that coming? and a few weeks out from the American Presidential Biden-Trump elections, which, without diving too deeply into my personal views on politics, are incredibly important to all of us living on this planet, and I think many of us are holding our breath and waiting to see what happens.
But, I digress. This is like the Forsyte Saga for the 21st Century, but written ahead of its time. It’s full title gives it away – ‘A Family 2029-2047’, years that sound so far ahead of us but are, in reality, not far away. I especially loved the name of the family – the Mandibles…chewed up and spat out?
The Mandibles are a family once comfortably well off and looking forward to inheriting a sizeable fortune from the patriarch, Grand Man Douglas, but now facing up to a complete and utter change of circumstances. A chillingly plausible global financial crisis has eroded his fortune, as well as the rest of America, and left them no longer able to rely on the ‘American Dream’ of growing wealth, prosperity, global leadership and and a rosy future. America, in short, is now a Third World country, it’s people turning on one another, fighting for food, shelter, life itself. The sub-title, ‘In God We Trusted’, together with the $100 bill on the cover, underlines not very subtly the all too pervasive reverence that links currency with God, and indeed, this book is about money more than anything else.
The author has clearly done some extensive research into economics; indeed, one of the Mandibles, Lowell, is a Professor of Economics at the beginning, although this turns out to be one of the first jobs to become irrelevant. His daughter will end up as a successful prostitute instead of attending college, and having the ability to adapt, forage, steal and survive is shown to be far more important than an Ivy League education in the long run.
Honestly, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is Orwellian in it’s bleak prediction of the future, entertaining in it’s incisive nods to a potential future which includes a Chelsea Clinton administration, Spanish becoming the first language in the USA, and a total worldwide economic collapse which is bleakly terrifying in that it could so easily happen. Plus, the Mexicans building a wall to keep Americans out. Right up there with The Handmaids Tale as an apocryphal vision of our possible future.
Mum read this in March of 2017, and died later that year. I know that like me, Mum was deeply concerned about the direction we as a species appear to be heading, and I know she, like me, would say read this, and learn from it.
As always, I’m going to be gifting Mum’s copy forward – please get in touch if you would like it, ideally through the Instagram or Facebook pages.
But if it has already been claimed, here’s an Amazon link …