REVIEW by Katherine Stansfield

NWR Issue 99

Flirting at the Funeral

by Chris Keil

Flirting at the Funeral, Chris Keil’s third novel (and the first book from newly formed Manchester-based Cillian Press), opens with Howard Lockhart, an academic at a Welsh university, on his way to see his wife, Anne, who has been hospitalised by motor neuron disease. Some effective foreshadowing establishes a theme of destructive things lying dormant, which continues when Howard and Anne’s friend Morgan is introduced. Morgan is a tour guide who leads groups around European sites of conflict. The present is haunted by the past; Morgan experiences Paris through its Second World War history. This becomes more literal when Morgan’s own past is revealed. In the 1970s he was in Portugal for the revolution, living on a commune with his then-girlfriend Matty James. Back in the present, Howard finds a copy of a play; Red Hammer by Dave Leaper, a story of those involved in the Portuguese revolution which strikes a chord with Morgan’s memories. Though the characters are fictional, Morgan sees his life replayed in the text: political allegiances shift, a meaningful relationship ends. But after meeting Matty again in London the past appears to have been rewritten...

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previous review: Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales, 1845-1945
next review: The Roaring Boys


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