Maybe It’s About Time by Neil Boss (Literary Fiction)

Writing: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Plot: 4/5
A book for our times, this book tackles the Covid era through the intimate stories of two very different people who meet by chance and end up having a surprising impact on each other. Marcus Barlow has everything money can buy, but hates almost every instant of his existence. He works for “The Firm” which is a Dilbertian take on management consulting. It all sounds over the top, and the language is heavily laced in satire, but having lived this myself, I know it’s not terribly exaggerated!. Claire Halford has literally nothing money can buy as she hasn’t any money — only two small children and an STI gifted to her by her adulterous (and now long gone) husband.
When Covid enters the picture — first as a scary whisper and later with a terrifying bang, both characters (along with Marcus’ family, Claire’s neighbors, and Gavin — Marcus’ friend and Claire’s social worker) — are tumbled along in its wake.
There is not a single cliche in this book, despite the fact that the plot could easily have descended into any of the multiple opportunities for banality. We watch each person — from the main characters to the many supporting characters — navigate the confusing, overwhelming, and stressful landscape of lockdowns, shortages, and sudden deaths. As we watch, the taxing times give rise to surprising self knowledge and hidden depths of kindness, compassion, and the desire to behave ethically, despite the discomfort inherent in doing so.
As an aside, the book had a great “soundtrack” as Marcus played different tunes to support his moods (I recognized and liked every one). Also, excellent descriptions of food from multiple tables — from the over-the-top meals for Partners at The Firm, to high end bachelor cooking, to children’s meals cobbled together from discount tins, to vegan meals offered to the unenthused. The author also managed to show empathy for many situations without descending into blame or broadcasting heavy handed social agendas and he spiced the entire book with plenty of humorous and dead accurate social commentary. Very good writing — reminds me of David Lodge who is one of my favorite British authors with the same kind of precise, intuitive writing.
Highly recommended.