First Line of Attack
The first lines of the novel
“The fat sun stalls by the phone masts. Anti-climb paint turns sulphurous on school gates and lampposts. In Willesden people go barefoot, the streets turn European, there is a mania for eating outside. She keeps to the shade. Redheaded. On the radio: I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines me. A good line—write it out on the back of a magazine. In a hammock, in the garden of a basement flat. Fenced in, on all sides.”
Arena of War
The setting and the situation of the story
Setting: Northwest London, modern day.
Premise: Four main characters from four different walks of life amongst a council estate in northwest London.
Personnel on the Battlefield
The main characters
- Leah: A white woman who works at a and is married to a half Algerian, half Guadeloupean man who wants to have a baby although Leah is now ready.
- Natalie: Whose real name is Keisha but renames herself Natalie when she becomes a lawyer, she is Leah’s best friend. From a church fearing first generation background and is married to mixed race man who is from Italy and Trinidad. They are a very successful couple although they are unhappily married and Natalie has an affair.
- Felix: Jack of all trades who still lives, he has a hard life and is caught up in drugs and violence.
- Nathan: Used to be the popular boy at school and is now a drug addict. Sometimes seen at the local tube station trying to sell travelcards for moneu
The plot and key sub-plots
The four main characters are adults who all live in Caldwell a working class part of northwest London. NW follows how the live among the council estate of their childhoods. Leah and Natalie are childhood friends who don’t necessarily like each other but are friends out of habit. Natalie and her husband live a comfortable lavish lifestyle but are unhappily married. Felix and Nathan went to school with Natalie and Felix, Nathan is a recovering addict and we see Nath trying to make money quickly and stay faithful to his girlfriend despite being tempted by this old flame.