In the early pages of James Flint’s Midland, Alex Wold receives news of two deaths, that of the bottlenose whale, whom he’d waded into the Thames, earlier that day, to help save, and then, moments later, that of Tony Nolan, his former step-father. As James and his estranged brother come together with other members of the Wold–Nolan clans at Tony’s funeral in Warwickshire, they are forced to confront unresolved issues from the past and to question just what is family: what unites and what divides.

Midland is a beautifully constructed book, each word carefully chosen, each sentence carefully laid down, each image carefully presented, with the result that we see exactly what the author wants us to, and nothing more. It’s a masterpiece of control, which, while extremely effective, leaves little to the reader’s imagination. In this, the writing reminds me of Donna Tartt, a wonderful storyteller and yet an author from whom I sometimes want less, less detail, less context, precisely so that my imagination can fly. But that’s a minor point. Flint is a skilful writer and Midland a finely written tome.


Midland | James Flint | Unbound | paperback | £8.99 | January 2019 |

please support your libraries and independent bookshops


Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the virtual book tour organised by Anne Cater, of Random Things Tours, to whom we extend our thanks. Many thanks also to the publisher for supplying a review copy of the book. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

Also of interest: ‘A tale of “Jews and shoes” in modern China, Spencer Wise’s debut novel’; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘The Woolgrower’s companion‘; ‘The stark beauty of William Shaw’s Salt Lane‘; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper –indie publisher, Orenda, does it again‘; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’.

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.