The Generation Game is author Sophie Duffy’s debut novel and follows the extraordinary life of forty-year-old Phillipa, from when she was a young girl growing up in Devon, right up to the present day where she has just become a mother.
We follow Phillipa through an extraordinary mixture of experiences as she grows up above a sweet shop in Torquay – abandonment by her mother, forming childhood friendships, a traumatic death, unplanned pregnancy and trying to figure out her place in the world.
Reading ‘The Generation Game’ is like stepping back in time. Sophie creates some extremely memorable characters in Phillipa and Helena – and in all the people who influence and surround her throughout her life. The small details of the various decades the characters move through are brilliantly observed – if you were born around the late sixties, early seventies, this will almost feel like you are reading your own diary – the events, trends, celebrities and popular TV programmes of the time come leaping off the pages and stir up long-forgotten memories.
This is an immensely readable book, which hooks you in right from the start. The juxtaposition of the story of Phillipa growing up as a child and her present day thoughts and concerns from hospital as a new, single mother, is an interesting perspective – and of course we want to know what was in the Blue Peter time capsule that her close friend creates before his untimely death.
Spanning such a lengthy time-period and involving so many characters, the author manages to successfully pace the story so you never feel overwhelmed or lost. She also manages to bring the plot neatly together at the end of the novel, without saccharine-coating everything and everyone.
This is a brave, bold, warm, rich, amusing, engaging novel which sits well alongside more established authors like Kate Atkinson’s ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’.
I am sure we will see much more from Sophie Duffy in years to come.
About the author
Sophie is a novelist and short story writer living on the south coast of Devon with her family. She was awarded the The Yeovil Literary Prize in 2006 for The Generation Game as a work-in-progress – which was judged by award-winning novelist Katie Fforde. Sophie went on to win the Luke Bitmead Bursary for the novel earlier this year.