Comedy of errors

Unreliable memories: Laura Laura, by Richard Francis, reviewed

Just imagine: you reach a certain age and you become your own unreliable narrator. Gerald Walker, the protagonist of Richard Francis’s 12th novel, is a retired history professor who fears that ‘chunks of his life might go missing’. Laura Laura describes a year in his life which, in seamless flashbacks, encompasses most of his past. It opens with Gerald’s late-night encounter with a homeless, possibly suicidal, waif called Laura. She revives his suppressed memory of a previous Laura, a research student with whom he’d had an illicit fling, best forgotten. This is an amusing study, with a serious underlying theme, of the tricks memory can play, particularly if, like Gerald,