Blackheath is written with rapier sharp wit and insight as Baron explores middle class angst and the joys and terrors of modern day parenthood through the lives of two characters, Amelia and James.
Amelia appears to have everything, two great children, a job she loves, a successful husband and a huge house in the affluent area of Blackheath in London. James is happily married to Alice and they too have two adorable kids.
Both Amelia and James feel that something is missing in their lives. The novel opens with Amelia who is watching her daughter eat Cheerios and wondering why her world feels flat and grey. Baron quickly establishes the sense of detachment and claustrophobia Amelia feels as normal life goes on around her. Until she spots James at the school’s reception desk and her body responds to the sight of him in an entirely unexpected way, as though awakening from a stupor.
Meanwhile, James is struggling to process his wife’s recent successes and feels a bit of a failure. He and Alice share the parenting and the second chapter goes into hilarious detail of James’s average day trying to manage two small children on his own, a scene that many mums and dads will be all too familiar with. When James is struck by the awful truth that love is not enough to fill the emptiness within himself, he realises that he needs to be more than a parent or a husband and goes in search of something to do.
James returns to stand-up comedy and discovers the life he now leads is the perfect source of original material. As Amelia’s fascination with James grows she contrives to ensure that their lives overlap, and the repercussions of those encounters eventually threatens to destroy both their families.
Blackheath is packed to the brim with intelligent, forensic and often hilarious insights into modern family life and love. This is a brutally honest novel that will have you cringing yet nodding in understanding, as James and Amelia put themselves through an emotional wringer as they lose their way in life and then find their way back to what’s really important. A clever, engaging, thought-provoking and highly entertaining read that gets under the complex skin of both sexes.