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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The TV Book Club - The Man Who Disappeared

This week's edition of The TV Book Club on Channel 4 looked at Clare Morrall's novel The Man Who Disappeared, the story of how the wife, Kate, and children of loving family man and successful accountant, Felix Kendall, deal with his disappearance following allegations of money laundering.

One of the panel, Stephen Tompkinson, asked whether, when the people who caused the economic crisis we are all suffering have gone unpunished, it is easy to have much sympathy for a dodgy accountant: an interesting point. It might in any case be tempting to heep blame on Felix's head for running off and undermining the family's way of life. In the interview segment, however, author Clare Morrall discourages the rush to vituperation: "Perhaps one can't be quite as judgemental as one would like to be. Things are never as black and white as they seem."  

The book raises many questions, not least those which in previous decades might have been derided as bourgeois. What would I do if the money dried up? How would I manage without his (or her) salary? What if we lost the house? Clare Morrall is refreshingly positive on these points; people survive, families adjust, life goes on.

More deeply, the book also provokes us to wonder how well we know those closest to us. Felix is not, after all, the man that Kate imagined him to be. In the view of one of the members of the Swanage reading circle featured in the programme, The Man Who Disappeared is a good summer read: not an easy one, but thought provoking. What do you think?

The programme can still be viewed at Channel 4's website.

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