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The Old Spring

Richard Francis

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Tindal Street Press

Published : 2010

Copyright : Richard Francis 2011

ISBN-10 : PB 1-906994-22-6
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-906994-22-8

Publisher's Write-Up

Dawn and Frank wake up one wet morning in the flat above their pub, the Old Spring. Today they have to meet the brewery representative, creepy Tim Green, and track down an error in their books - or face the consequences. Dawn has something else on her mind, too: the anniversary of an old tragedy for which she has always felt responsible. Frank has a problem of his own - a secret that has ended his sex life with Dawn. Darren the cleaner, meanwhile, is haunted by the ghost of a long-dead landlord. The pub's 'chaplain', Father Thomas, tries to rediscover his faith under the sceptical scrutiny of his tormentor, Alan. And, in the local hospital, pub regular Romesh drifts towards death on his magic carpet, while back in the snug, the tattoed man faces up to a life and death crisis of his own.

About the Author:
Richard Francis has published nine novels and three non-fiction books. He has written for TV and regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio. In 2010, Yale University Press published his fourth non-fiction title, Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia. In 1999, Richard became Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where he is now an Honourary Research Fellow. He is married with two grown-up children, and lives, with his wife, in Bath and south-west France.

'A wonderfully boozy evocation and celebration of pub life, full of all sorts of characters you dread meeting in a public bar, but are glad you did.'

Gerard Woodward, author, 'I'll Go to Bed at Noon'
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (310512) Rating (8/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Rating 8/10
Richard Francis's book The Old Spring is one of those books that does not shout, does not go all out to impress the reader with co-incidence or out-landish co-incidences, it does not have a denouement that compromises the rest of the book, and it is a far better read than many books that shout look at me.

Tindal Street Press is one of those independent presses that continually punches above its weight, publishing quality, award winning books, and The Old Spring continues this tradition.

The novel looks at the everyday lives, loves and labours of Dawn and Frank, who run The Old Spring, a pub, the type of which seems to be dying on the high street. The book looks at the importance of the pub to their friends and customers, such as Romesh, who is the most visited man in the hospital, and his illness is a recurring motif throughout the book. Father Thomas, is trying to relocate his faith in a world that seems to place instant gratification above faith, while Darren, The Old Spring's cleaner, and later bar man has his own troubles, with both girls, and the ghosts that he believe haunt the pub's cellar.

Dawn and Frank are in trouble with their brewery, about a missing £900, which the brewery's weasly rep Tim Green is investigating, and offers to help Dawn replace it in ways that don't include money, whilst Frank has his own doubts about his sexuality.

There are no inciting incidents here, it is just life happening to these well drawn characters. Life does not begin for them at the beginning of the novel, nor does it end, it just continues. It is a snapshot of life. Like Graham Swift's Last Orders this book looks at the camaraderie to be found in long term customers at bars, discussing life, and playing pub games over alcohol. There is humour here, but there is also pathos, humanity, and life as it is found.
Ben Macnair (31st may 2012)

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