of the four booker prize winners i have read thus far, kingsley amis’ the old devils is by far my favourite. it’s quirky and fast, and it was much-appreciated after the difficulty of the previous few reads.
the old devils is about a group of retired friends in wales who spend most of their days drinking and gossiping – the husbands in pubs around town and the wives in each other’s homes, but their routines are thrown out of order when an old friend and his wife announce they are moving back to town. the husband, alun, had dalliances with a few of his friends’ wives back in the day, and his wife rhiannon had a fling with one or two of the men when she was at university. so you can imagine how their arrivals change things around for malcolm, charlie, peter, and their wives.
although parts of the book were a little tough for me to decipher because of the welsh sayings – and because i don’t know enough about welsh history – i found amis’ book to be entertaining and very interesting. it touches on alcoholism, adultery, obesity, and a range of social issues facing wales in the early 80s, all while finding a way to entertain the reader. no small feat, especially since most of the characters were grumpy drunks who spent most of their days complaining about their spouses.
my main takeaway from the book, however, was that it is time i got myself to wales. i have been wanting to see wales for a number of years, so i take this as a sign it is time to make that happen. my mother lived there while she was completing her fellowship in the early 1970s, and i would love to revisit the places she lived and see them for myself. so here’s to making that happen soon.
my goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 // average rating is 3.36
crossing off the popsugar reading list: a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
currently reading: the diary of a young girl by anne frank.