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The Long Song

There are many ways to end a song: the crafted ending (think Stairway to Heaven); the fade out (think David Bowie’s Space Oddity); the fade-out-fade-in (Strawberry Fields); the climactic noise (Foo Fighters, The Pretender). And there’s the false ending: George Michael’s Faith;  Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel’s Come Up and Make Me Smile, to name but two.

There are many ways to end a book. Leaving the reader gasping for air (John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany). The ending that has the reader thinking, ‘I can’t believe he just did that? Did he just do that? No, no. He can’t have, he wouldn’t have (David Nichol’s One Day). Succumbing to the inevitable (think Thomas Hardy’ Tess of the D’Urbervilles with the heartbreaking scene at Stonehenge). Few, in  my memory, have attempted the false ending. Andrea Levy plays this card not once, but several times. Unlike the three minute pop song, a book won’t be re-read until we are the insider on a joke. By the penultimate chapter, seeing there was a postscript, in the words of Morrisey, I felt ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More.’

And the shame of it was that there were parts of the book I so, so loved…The Long Song: give me Bohemian Rhapsody any day.