Nuclear fusion

Oxford skulduggery: The Sandpit, by Nicholas Shakespeare, reviewed

Melancholy pervades this novel: a sense of glasses considerably more than half empty, with the levels sinking fast. This is largely due to its central character, John Dyer, a former journalist in his late fifties, who has returned from years in South America to live in Oxford and write a book about Portugal’s accidental discovery of Brazil. With him comes his 11-year-old son, who attends the Phoenix, a posh prep school based on Oxford’s real-life Dragon School. Gradually, through a series of leisurely flashbacks, we learn that the love of Dyer’s life has died, his wife has left him, journalism has lost its soul and Brazil is going to pot.