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This review is taken from PN Review 68, Volume 15 Number 6, July - August 1989.

THE FALKLANDS FACTOR Richard Francis, Swansong (Collins) £10.95

Swansong's principal character, a recently widowed vicar called David, sees ghosts from the past and finds, by a circuitous and comic route of coincidences, that history is a dream from which there is no escape for the dreamer. As he gradually unravels and recognizes the ironies of his own fate, he remains unaware of his part in the larger plot, unable therefore to either connect or disconnect its lines of communication and power. Likewise, Terry the failed insurance salesman, and Premo Bulge the failing rock star, keep unexpected rendezvous with a destiny in whose great wheel they are mere cogs. As the picaresque strands of Richard Francis's tale start to converge - with the puzzling habit of parallel lines meeting on the horizon - the only doubt seems to be which, if any, among its cast of thousands, will not arrive at some point of communal intersection. The mysterious 'Fat Man', who makes fleeting and unexpected appearances, turns out to be both a covert agent of Nemesis and a string of red-herrings. Only the Prime Minister, the Mrs Cheeseman who adorns the jacket cover in her guise as a mongrel, half Margaret Thatcher and half Botticelli's shell-borne Venus, appears to exercise any control over the larger pattern of events, and she is above offering explanations, even - or rather especially - to her inner cabinet. Only her economic adviser is sharp enough to keep up, actually overtaking her on basic principles, as when arguing for a pay rise (his ...

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