Back in 1984

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AuthorHouse, Mar 10, 2010 - Fiction - 320 pages
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A keen insight into the emotional world of a young couple caught in the crosscurrents of seventies idealism and eighties realism...


Back in 1984 is divided into two parts. Part one, Feeling Time, examines a day-in-the-life of on-off lovers, Joe Travis and Mary Thwaites – a day, on which both are confronted by dramatic events that eventually reunite them. As the day progresses, scenes from their pasts bubble up, shedding light on two people in difficulty but still full of the dreams and delusions of 1970’s libertarianism – as well as love for each other. The story, set in Leeds with flashbacks to seventies Berlin and sixties London, shows Joe and Mary learning to balance self-obsession with the needs of others.


Part two, On the Horizon, continues the story of Joe and Mary, but is told in diary form by Joe alone. A year in the life of a man trying to make films, babies and sense out of life, love, sex and sexuality. In contrast to the literary distance of part one, the reader is thrown into the maelstrom of one man’s existence. The miner’s strike, the nature of male friendship, the delights and disappointments of sex, the pressures of conception, the idyll of a writing holiday in Tuscany – all are interwoven in fast moving prose that offers humour and insight amidst glimpses of despair.



“Well-written, witty and observant, it gets under the skin of late twentieth century political correctness, reminds us of the universal nature of grief and encourages us to never give up and always be open to change.”  




“If you find relationships and co-habitation an uphill struggle, dealing with death difficult and making babies something of a drama, read this!”



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I really liked Richard Woolley's book BACK IN 1984. It gives an accurate, touching and involving look at life in the early eighties for a couple trying to learn to live with each other, make babies, stay involved in politics (e.g. getting up at 5.30 to go on striking miners' picket lines!), hold down their jobs and deal with the death of one of the 'heroine's' parents - to name just one of the specific dramatic events involved. A literate but very accessible read with fast moving prose and a wonderful ability to get behind emotions and depict characters as real living people. Also contains some beautiful self-contained flashback stories revealing key moments in the past lives of both protagonists - I especially liked the one about how the couple first met at a community Bonfire night party in a northern backstreet!
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Helen Mason

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