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The History of Us by Jonathan Harvey

Out now (Pan Macmillan)

Harvey may be best known for his work in TV, theatre and film but this is his fifth novel and possibly his best yet. It tells the story of three friends growing up in 1980s Liverpool who are all damaged by the experiences of their childhoods, experiences that continue reverberating through their lives as adults. By bouncing between 1985 and 2015 and then filling in the gaps in between, Harvey gradually reveals the secrets that destroyed their friendship – and led to the death of one of the trio in suspicious circumstances. As ever, his writing is packed with heart and humour and once again it’s his characters who steal the show; Jocelyn is a black, Katie Hopkins-esque rent-a-gob, Kathleen is an overweight, jobless alcoholic, and Adam is a failed writer whose relationship with his own campness is a well-observed delight. The book could do with the occasional edit as there are a few long passages of rambling thoughts, but you get the impression that, after decades of having to produce streamlined scripts, Harvey is having fun letting rip in a form that suits his relaxed, conversational style of writing. And The History of Us is another winner.

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