My review -
We pick up the life of John Sissons after his release from a prison sentence. I can’t be the only reader of Abide With Me who wondered what the future held for him. He manages to get a job in a factory, though it’s bleak and soul destroying – repetitious and uninspiring. He needs the money, though. His ‘baby sister’ Becky, now seventeen, has a boyfriend and John’s not impressed. A few more characters from his past catch up with him and he finds himself in dire need of friends. He’s been set up for something and he fears for Becky’s life. Strands mesh together as the story reaches its climax.
Thoreau famously observed that ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’ and Ian Ayris illustrates this so well with John and some of his friends. Life’s kicked them in the guts in their childhood and he often wishes he could go back to that happy time, before any of the problems of his life beset him. On the surface, he’s a no-hoper, but scratch that exterior and there’s a bit of a philosopher underneath. He – and possibly many of the people we would dismiss as an underclass – has a depth of character which Ayris teases out and celebrates. I really found this a very satisfying read, but if you’re allergic to strong language, you won’t enjoy it. Be prepared.