The Friendly Ones

The Friendly Ones
О книге

‘It’s the book you should give someone who thinks they don’t like novels … Here is surely a future prizewinner that is easy to read and impossible to forget’ Melissa Katsoulis, The TimesThe things history will do at the bidding of loveOn a warm Sunday afternoon, Nazia and Sharif are preparing for a family barbecue. They are in the house in Sheffield that will do for the rest of their lives. In the garden next door is a retired doctor, whose four children have long since left home. When the shadow of death passes over Nazia and Sharif’s party, Doctor Spinster’s actions are going to bring the two families together, for decades to come.The Friendly Ones is about two families. In it, people with very different histories can fit together, and redeem each other. One is a large and loosely connected family who have come to England from the subcontinent in fits and starts, brought to England by education, and economic possibilities. Or driven away from their native country by war, murder, crime and brutal oppression – things their new neighbours know nothing about. At the heart of their story is betrayal and public shame. The secret wound that overshadows the Spinsters, their neighbours next door, is of a different kind: Leo, the eldest son, running away from Oxford University aged eighteen. How do you put these things right, in England, now?Spanning decades and with a big and beautifully drawn cast of characters all making their different ways towards lives that make sense, The Friendly Ones, Philip Hensher’s moving and timely new novel, shows what a nation is made of; how the legacies of our history can be mastered by the decision to know something about people who are not like us.


Читать The Friendly Ones онлайн беплатно


4th Estate

An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

This eBook first published in Great Britain by 4th Estate in 2018

Copyright © Philip Hensher 2018

Cover image by Albert Anker (1831–1910)

Kleinkinderschule auf der Kirchenfeldbrücke, 1900, oil on canvas

Gottfried Keller-Stiftung, Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern

Depositum im Kunstmuseum Bern

Extract from ‘Second’ taken from Happiness by Jack Underwood (Faber & Faber). Copyright © Jack Underwood, 2015. Reproduced by permission of Faber & Faber Ltd.

The right of Philip Hensher to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008175641

Ebook edition: March 2018 ISBN: 9780008175665

Version: 2018-01-30

For Zaved Mahmood, of course

If I lived in a cave and you were my only visitor,

what would I tell you that the walls had told me?

That people are unfinished and are made between

each other …


… amid the millions of this great city it is difficult to discover who these people are or what their object can be …

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, The Hound of the Baskervilles



Towards the end of the afternoon, Aisha got up and stood at the garden window. The arrangements for the party had been in place since the morning – the hired barbecue, red and shiny under the elm tree, the festoons over the bushes, the torches lined up along the shrubbery. Over the fence, the old man was up a ladder against a fruit tree. He had been sweeping fallen white blossom from his lawn, and now had found something to do where he could see his neighbours better. Inside the room, the Italian was continuing to talk. Her mother and father were still listening.

‘Really?’ Nazia said inattentively. She could not see this one as a son-in-law. He was bald; his brown sweater hung, unravelling, around his dirty wrists. His party clothes were underneath. Aisha had been an eager, encouraging member of his audience until early yesterday evening, and then, quite abruptly, had wilted into silence and bored disinterest, passing him on to her parents, like a pet she had passionately wished for before finding the task of caring for it too much.

‘In Sicily, we often have such parties,’ the Italian was saying. ‘But it is too hot, in the summer, to have parties during the day where food is served. We wait until nine or ten o’clock in the evening, and then we eat cold food, perhaps some pasta. We would not grill meat like this, in the open air.’

‘Really?’ Sharif said, in his turn. A bird was singing in the elm tree, a loud, plangent, lovely note, as if asking a question of the garden. Underneath, the light fell through the leaves, dappling the lawn, the shiny red box of the barbecue, the white-shirted help, now talking quietly to each other, raising their eyes quizzically, serious as surgeons.

Nazia had felt she had done everything that she could have for Aisha’s Italian. They had taken him out to an Italian restaurant in Sheffield on Friday night, said to be very good, where he had poked suspiciously at his plate and explained about Sicilian food. They had gone out for the day into the countryside on Saturday, where Sharif had got lost and the stately home had failed to impress. She had cooked a real Bengali meal last night that Enrico couldn’t eat, and had said so. This morning, Aisha was supposed to take him for a walk in the neighbourhood, through the woods, but her change of heart yesterday had done for that. ‘Oh, Mummy,’ she had said, throwing her hands up, when Nazia had suggested it after breakfast. ‘Don’t be so dreadfully boring. I can’t think of anything worse. We’ll be perfectly happy just reading the paper.’

They had been in the square red-brick house almost four months. It was perfect, resembling a child’s first drawing of a house, with a square front, a door with brass knocker, windows to either side, and a chimney on both right and left. The purple front door had been changed to imperial blue, the kitchen modernized, the fitted carpets removed and the parquet flooring re-polished, the avocado bathroom altered to white: everything had been done under Nazia’s direction and control, but there had been no official opening.

Вам будет интересно