A novel about someone who should be one of the most boring and uninspiring protagonists in western literature turns out to be a compelling read. Every subtle twist and turn of this 1950s suburban housewife’s life is bristling with meaning and the reader is carried along as though they were awaiting the occurrence of something truly awful or frightening. Just as Virginia Woolf shows how Mrs Dalloway’s is a beautiful existence, Connell makes the reader see how this at once straightforward and relatively shallow woman is walking the same path as us all, dreading the meaninglessness that lurks beneath the surface of things and the possibility that she might just give up, or cease to care, or disappear right there in the country club gardens. She isn’t comfortable in her own skin, and that’s what makes the reader empathise, and not just empathise, but be wholly engaged with the minor blips that constitute her existential struggle. And it’s so funny too. A great novel in the same class as the Updike, Roth and Yates novels of the period.