Mike Van Campen's Reviews > Tomorrow

Tomorrow by Graham Swift
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's review
Jun 02, 2009

liked it
Recommended for: fans of good writing and parents
Read in October, 2007

I am a huge fan of Swift's and firmly believe he has written one of the best novels of the last century (Waterland), but this novel falls short. The premise of the novel is that Paula Cambell Hook (49) is unable to sleep because tomorrow she and her husband will share a secret with their children (16 y.o. twins) that will supposedly change their world irrevocably. This establishes the dramatic tension as the narrator seems to be speaking to her children telling the story of her life with her husband through flashbacks.

Swift keeps the reader guessing for 2/3 of the novel. The "mystery" may appeal to some but I found it a literary trick unworthy of such great writing. The real meat of this novel (so to speak) is in the examination of what the secret actually means to the family and what defines a family. I feel this would have been a far better novel if Swift had let us in on the secret in the first few pages and spent the rest of the novel with Paula examining the implications of the secret, which should have been easy given that she has had sixteen years to mull it over.

In addition, I am not sure that Swift does the best job of writing as a woman. I tried to ask myself it I picked up this novel unaware of the author would I be able to tell it was written by a man. I think the answer would have to be "Yes".

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