Daniel Soar writes:

Sometimes you just have to think of England. It may be embarrassing, it may be awful, but it exists. Max Porter’s Lanny – his second novel – is partly about an idea of England. It’s set in an unnamed village, ‘fewer than fifty redbrick cottages’, within commuting distance of London, a place that is ‘a cruciform grid with the twin hearts of church and pub in the middle’. It’s a place that the Ordnance Survey doesn’t recognise: less than 15 minutes’ drive from a town called Ashcote – not on any real-life map – and not far from a grand house called Carlton Hall, which you won’t find in the handbooks of the National Trust or English Heritage because it isn’t on the map either. But even without any of this being spelled out you immediately imagine the set-up: lawns, tearoom, shop selling a variety of marmalades and overpriced tartan blankets – somewhere for families and pensioners to spend their Sundays.

(LRB 23 May 2019)

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