In For a Penny, In For a Pound by Tim Waterstone

Tim Waterstone is the man who set up the bookselling chain, Waterstone’s  in the UK  in 1982.  He is no longer involved in that field and is an academic who writes in his spare time.  In For a Penny, in for a Pound, is set in the world he inhabited for many years.  We have publishing of both books and newspapers, bookselling and banking all featuring in the story, and not all of it in a flattering light by any means.

Hugh Emerson has set up the publishing house of his dreams, and although it is doing well critically, financially there are problems.  His best friend Ned is a wealthy son of a newspaper magnate and is himself in investments. Ned wants to be more involved in the family business, but his father has shut him out of any meaningful influence. The newspaper magnate is out of touch, and has been diversifying into unrelated ventures, which are all starting to go pear shaped.

Hugh is married to Nicola and their continued inability to have a child is no longer spoken about. Her life becomes fraught when she falls for an unattainable man, but again Hugh and Nicola don’t talk about it. This is in contrast to the very fertile Ned and his wife Daisy who are happily smothered in babies and talk about things very naturally.

We have prima donna authors, slimy bankers, irascible old men, put-upon elder sons, ignored younger sons, imperious elders, ambitious politicians and more. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through all of these different worlds and characters. It helps if you like an English feel to a book. Paperback, $33 Heather

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