It is Brighton, 1959, and the theatre at the end of the pier is having its best summer season in years. Ronnie, a brilliant young magician, and Evie, his dazzling assistant, are top of the bill, drawing audiences each night. Meanwhile, Jack – Jack Robinson, as in ‘before you can say’ – is everyone’s favourite compère, a born entertainer, holding the whole show together.
As the summer progresses, the off-stage drama between the three begins to overshadow their theatrical success, and events unfold which will have lasting consequences for all their futures.
Rich, comic, alive and subtly devastating, Here We Are is a masterly piece of literary magicianship which pulls back the curtain on the human condition.
'One to watch for 2020' according to:
The Sunday Times
The Daily Telegraph
The Irish Times
'He tells simple, truthful stories about what feel like real people. Here We Are is a welcome addition to a proud legacy.' The Big Issue
The variety of voices and its historical and emotional reach are so finely entwined, it is as perfect and smooth as an egg. Passages leap out all the time, demanding to be reread, or committed to memory... It is perhaps too simple to say that Swift creates a form of fictional magic, but what he can do with a page is out of the ordinary, far beyond most mortals’ ken.' Rosemary Goring,The Herald
'Here We Are is a subtle portrait of a vanished world, with moving passages about the problems of wartime evacuees returning to impoverished London life after the wonders of the countryside.' The Independent
‘In Here We Are, Swift does not just dwell on the pivotal moments of our lives, but traces their shockwaves both forward and back. Moving seamlessly from pre-war to post, from the events of one illusory, youthful summer to the present, we are given candid access to the innermost reflections of three people who loved and betrayed each other. The end result is the stuff of life, an enduring mystery that Ronnie, Evie, Jack - that we all - must live with. I thought it was wonderful.’ Joseph Knox, author of Sirens
‘As with all his books, it’s the moments of quiet, undramatic poignancy that stay with you’ Sunday Express
‘a quietly, devastating, magical novel’ Telegraph
‘With a wizardry of his own, Swift conjures up an about-to-disappear little world and turns it into something of wider resonance’ Sunday Times
Praise for Mothering Sunday:
'Bathed in light; and even when tragedy strikes, it blazes irresistibly… Swift’s small fiction feels like a masterpiece’ Guardian
‘Alive with sensuousness and sensuality … wonderfully accomplished, it is an achievement’ Sunday Times
‘From start to finish Swift’s is a novel of stylish brilliance and quiet narrative verve. The archly modulated, precise prose (a hybrid of Henry Green and Kazuo Ishiguro) is a glory to read. Now 66,
Swift is a writer at the very top of his game’ Evening Standard
‘Mothering Sunday is a powerful, philosophical and exquisitely observed novel about the lives we lead, and the parallel lives – the parallel stories – we can never know … It may just be Swift’s best novel yet’ Observer
Saturated with images and metaphors that recur like melodies, this jewel of a novel by Booker-winner Swift (Last Orders) conjures the shared past of a group of entertainers who performed together in 1959. In seaside Brighton, England, 28-year-old showman Jack Robinson hires his old army buddy, the magician Ronnie Deane, to be part of his variety show. The enigmatic magician in turn hires the lovely Evie to jazz up his act, and soon puts an engagement ring on her finger. Jack's show becomes a success, with Ronnie and Evie's set as "the Great Pablo and Eve" the major attraction, though from the beginning, Swift hints that there will be no happy ending for the "lopsided trio." In Swift's trademark fashion, his close-third narration intertwines each character's perspective to construct the tragic story in seamless transitions, gradually revealing past transgressions and sources of pain as time bends back on itself. A now elderly Evie mostly looks on from the present, while chapters on Ronnie deepen Swift's bittersweet tone by following Ronnie's journey as a boy sent during the London Blitz in WWII to live with a beloved surrogate mother and father, from whom he learns his craft. Swift's brief, magical tale demonstrates one more brilliant example of his talent for pulling universal themes out of the hats of ordinary lives.