Angela still mourns her stillborn child, who would have celebrated her eighteenth birthday that week. Richard, a hospital consultant, is worried about a potential lawsuit. Dominic wonders whether to end his affair. The teenagers, Melissa and Daisy, form a brief but dangerous alliance.
The story is told, day by day, in the third person, with a constantly changing viewpoint. This disorientates the reader, making it hard to follow at first. The style is impressionistic, almost a stream of consciousness at times. It made me think too of Middlemarch and the 'equivalent centres of self'. So some concentration is required, but I think it is a book that well rewards the effort.
One person looks around and sees a universe created by a god who watches over its long unfurling, marking the fall of sparrows and listening to the prayers of its finest creation. Another person believes that life, in all its baroque complexity, is a chemical aberration that will briefly decorate the surface of a ball of rock spinning somewhere among a billion galaxies. And the two of them could talk for hours and find no great difference between one another, for neither set of beliefs makes us kinder or wiser.
A spot of background googling brought to light Mark Haddon's essay 'The Right Words in the Right Order' about the power of the novel to portray our inner experiences. The essay can be found in Stop What You're Doing And Read This, authors' reflections on the transformative power of reading. Contributors include Blake Morrison, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson. Another one to add to my list perhaps?