‘My Son, My Son’ by Howard Spring (publishers Apollo) is my latest big read by this at one time Manchester-based author. Whilst the 578 pages flew by, I have to say I was a little disappointed having just read his magnificent ‘Fame Is The Spur’.
In ‘My Son, My Son‘, Howard Spring takes the Biblical tale of King David’s painful relationship with his beloved, despicable son Absalom and sets it in early 20th century England.
As with ‘Fame Is The Spur’ the protagonist narrates his own life story. Having grown up poor in the back streets of Manchester, and then achieved success as a novelist, William Essex determines that his son, Oliver, will have everything that he himself missed out on as a child. The son is spoiled much against his mother’s wishes. The outcomes are not good.
In parallel, William Essex’s Irish friend Dermot O’Riorden wants to see his son, Rory, fulfil his own youthful dream of being an Irish freedom fighter.
Both fathers of course come to regret having got their wishes.
As his career progresses, much like Spring himself, Essex buys a house in London and then a country retreat in Cornwall on the river near Falmouth. Having grown up in Manchester and now living not too far away from Falmouth, I certainly empathised with the locations which are drawn in great detail. The characters as always with Howard Spring are very strongly drawn too, and we want to inhabit their lives and see what happens next. References contemporary to the story such as the march to Irish Independence, the Manchester Martyrs, the Arts and Craft movement, levels of poverty, the pub scene in Manchester, whatever, all integrate seamlessly to the story.
What I found not quite up to standard was the development of the plot. A bit creaky and certainly at the end all too unbelievable and mawkish. Pity! As otherwise very enjoyable….
There is an interesting interview with Howard Spring a few months before he died at…….. http://www.john-summers.net/spring.html