The premise of this novel was intriguing. A group of strangers stranded in a rural hotel in England during a terrible snowstorm. Sillitoe introduces us to the various characters in part one as they go about their days, starting with Keith, who has killed his wife and then headed north for a camping weekend. Aaron, the forger book dealer who lives with his sister. Eileen, the hard-living young hitchhiker. Sally, the slightly unsatisfied housewife on her way to surprise her husband at the airport, although he expects to be surprised. Daniel, the school teacher who is driving a van full of explosives to Coventry. Parsons, the union rep, traveling with his secretary, Jenny. Alfred, taking his aging father to a nursing home that he has claimed is a resort. Fred, the owner of the White Cavalier Hotel and Enid, his surly waitress. All find themselves marooned at the hotel and joined by three bikers who drove the van of explosives from its place in a snowbank at a safe distance from the hotel to a parking spot right outside its doors.
Sillitoe takes us deeper into the lives and characters of each of the players, gets them drunk, pairs them up, causes some fights, and then begins to toy with our judgments when the truth about the contents of the van emerges. First impressions, as you might
There are so many characters and so many seemingly disparate details that I struggled to keep them all straight until they were all safely ensconced in the hotel and interacting with one another. Sillitoe’s characters were well developed and the scenario was modern and traditional. If I could change one aspect of the novel, it would be the pacing. Because Sillitoe was so careful about developing the characters, at times the pace moved slowly for a novel that revolved around a foiled terrorist attack. This is not your typical thriller. The bomb is the excuse for the building of characters rather than the characters being an excuse to move the bomb plot forward. I was enamored with Sillitoe’s style enough to put his Moggerhanger on my Kindle.