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We Had It So Good: Book review

We Had It So Good - book review

Reviewed by's Mel Scott

From the author of The Clothes On Their Backs and the fascinating style memoir The Thoughtful Dresser, comes Linda Grant's latest novel, We Had It So Good.

It follows the life of American ex-pat Stephen Newman, who arrives in England in the late 1960s to study at Oxford. There. he meets Andrea, a lost-looking red-headed girl who he marries for convenience and ends up making a family with. Together they build a comfortable and upwardly mobile life for themselves in trendy North London.

Things come to a crux as Stephan and his wife Andrea reach middle age. His recently widowed father visits him in London ready to reveal a secret that strikes at the heart of his family's identity, and the events of the London Tube bombings send their daughter Marianne into a downward spiral.

A musing on family, relationships and the legacy of the idealistic baby boomer generation, Grant explores the dynamics between three different generations.

Like Grant's previous novels, family and history play a defining role in the characters' lives and not always for the better. Relationships are somewhat dysfunctional as parents and children constantly struggle to understand each other.

It's a melancholy portrait of growing older and there's a definite sense of innocence lost for Stephen and Andrea as the hope and idealism of their baby boomer generation has long since faded and their children are left, as we all are, to face uncertain future...

We Had It So Good, by Linda Grant
Publisher: Hachette
RRP: $36.99
Available: Now