A bold, astonishingly intimate novel of laughter and heartbreak, High Dive is a moving portrait of clashing loyalties, guilt and regret, and how individuals become the grist of history.
In September 1984, a bomb was planted at the Grand Hotel in the seaside town of Brighton, England, set to explode in twenty-four days when the British prime minister and her entire cabinet would be staying there. High Dive not only takes us inside this audacious assassination attempt - a decisive act of violence on the world stage - but also imagines its way into a group of unforgettable characters.
Nimbly weaving together fact and fiction, comedy and tragedy, the story switches among the perspectives of Dan, a young IRA explosives expert; Moose, a former star athlete gone to seed, who is now the deputy hotel manager; and Freya, his teenage daughter, trying to decide what comes after high school. Over the course of a mere four weeks, as the prime minister's arrival draws closer, each of their lives will be transformed forever.
An excerpt of the novel by Jonathan Lee
What he loved most was walking into the Grand with his daughter at his side. Yes, I created this person, look. A tiny moment of ego in an industry that was all about accommodating others.
Philip Finch, known to everyone but his aged mother as Moose, was driving to the hotel in his fail-safe koda 120, a car the color of old chocolate gone chalky. His window was wound down so he could tap ash onto the street and blow smoke out of the side of his mouth. It was important that his daughter shouldn't have to inhale his mistakes. She was in the passenger seat wearing her classic early-morning look: black skirt, white blouse, an elegantly expressionless corpse. Her hair had been cut yesterday. He saw no discernible difference. He told her it looked very good.
They passed the Dyke Road Park and the Booth Museum. Freya started rummaging in the glove compartment, a minor landslide of cassettes. There was a system and she was spoiling ...
Overall, High Dive is a cleverly worked story, full of acute observations of character and punctuated by a dark and enjoyable vein of humor. Fictionalizing events leading up to a disaster about which every reader has foreknowledge, allows Lee countless opportunities for dramatic irony. Some may be frustrated by the lack of a "splash" or any explanation of what happens to some of the characters beyond the explosion. But Lee does tie up Dan's story well and crafts an ending that mirrors his opening in a poignant and impressively satisfying fashion.
(Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).
Full Review (633 words).
In High Dive, Jonathan Lee references many aspects of "The Troubles," a term used to describe the turbulent decades in Northern Ireland between 1960 and 2000. At issue was a territorial challenge: the overwhelmingly Protestant Loyalists wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom while the nationalists and mainly Catholic republicans were looking to secede and become part of the Republic of Ireland.
The novel frequently references the Maze prison north of Belfast, the notorious H-block section of the Maze and to the death there, in 1981, of Bobby Sands.
The Maze, also known as Long Kesh, or simply the Maze, was built on an airfield and opened in 1971 as an internment camp to house prisoners and paramilitary offenders arrested and ...
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