The gritty intimacies of everyday middle-class life in England flesh out a larger story of race and resentment in Maggie Gee's The White Family, shortlisted for Britain's Orange Prize. Alfred White has been park keeper at Albion Park for nearly 50 years when he collapses and is taken to the hospital. As his family gathers around him, their individual histories are revealed: son Darren is a very successful and rather superficial journalist; daughter Shirley, to her father's disgust, lives with a black man; son Dirk is a budding skinhead. Their mother, May, tries desperately to hold the family together, despite the odds. A violent attack shows how strong racial hatred can be, but also serves as an emotional release for some of the novel's tormented characters. Gee's graceful, nuanced family portrait is well framed by her take on racial tensions in late 20th-century England.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008 Release date: 04/01/2008 Genre: Fiction