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While the Sun Shines

While the Sun Shines

Paperback

By (author) John Harding

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 204mm x 30mm | 259g
  • Publication date: 3 June 2002
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552999660
  • ISBN 13: 9780552999663
  • Sales rank: 397,628

Product description

At fifty the guarantee runs out...About to hit the big five-oh, obsessed with sex, cocaine-fuelled and gripped by a crippling fear of death, Professor Michael Cole is finding life a bit of a struggle. It's finding the time to squeeze everything in, really. He's supposedly writing the definitive biography of his literary hero, John Donne, but barely manages three hundred words a week. His insatiable enthusiasm for his prettier female students might be partly to blame, but they are only young once. And the fact that one of his female colleagues has yet to succumb to his charms is, admittedly, a distraction he could well do without. But throw in a fight for promotion, a wife to lie to and two small children to look after and it's no wonder his blood pressure has reached life-threatening heights. He knows the time has come to act his age. The question is how. Because Michael Cole is very much a creature of habit and, as we all know, old habits die hard. But it's when he's caught in the act of adultery by his grandmother that Cole truly begins to see the writing on the wall. After all, she's been dead for twenty-five years...Marrying humour, heart and a singular understanding of the human condition, WHILE THE SUN SHINES is an uproariously funny yet hugely affecting novel about growing-old disgracefully and the price we sometimes have to pay. ..

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Author information

John Harding was born in a small Fenland village in the Isle of Ely in 1951. After local village and grammar schools, he read English at St Catherine's College, Oxford, where he once sat next to Martin Amis during a lecture. He worked first as a newspaper reporter, then as a writer and editor in magazines, before becoming a freelance writer. His first novel was the acclaimed and bestselling WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY. He lives in Richmond upon Thames with his wife and two sons.

Review quote

"'Wonderfully funny, original and moving'" -- Helen Dunmore "'Beautifully crafted...the perfect marriage of humour and heart'" -- Glenn Patterson "'A wonderful novel...written with great humour and a rare generosity of spirit. Truly original'" -- Deborah Moggach "'A really wonderful book'" The Times "'Pognant, hilarious and ultimately deeply moving...a wonderful novel'" -- Marika Cobbold

Editorial reviews

Sex, drugs, and midlife crisis: a British academic's life spins out of control in a labored comedy, second-novelist Harding's first US publication. Michael Cole is a university English professor in an unidentified English city. His specialty is poet and cleric John Donne, "a like mind" because of his fear of death. Approaching 50, Cole broods obsessively about mortality when he's not looking for another student to seduce (his long-suffering wife Alison is a former one) or feeding his coke habit. His blood pressure is so high his doctor insists he wear a monitor for a day, the exact same day that Cole sees his way clear to bedding the delectable 20-year-old Tamsin Graves. Coitus interruptus, alas: Tamsin notices the monitor and concludes Cole is taping their lovemaking. And that's the feeble plot hook from which Cole's subsequent problems hang. Tamsin lodges a complaint with the ethics committee, and Cole is suspended pending an investigation. Meanwhile, he's started hallucinating. Three dead relatives pop up at crucial moments; flashbacks (little more than filler) give us their history. Cole's living family is also a problem. Alison must be kept in the dark about his suspension; this involves subterfuge (Harding loves split-second timing routines, but their comic punch doesn't connect). Cole's two small boys are a handful. Nor must we forget the Old Soldier, as Cole fondly dubs his penis, for which he feels a fretful love that he denies Alison; too often lately he's been missing in action. Finally, there's the cocaine, which almost leads to Cole's arrest; fortunately the cops are amenable to a nice fat bribe from his dealer. The final nail in his coffin is his climactic appearance to give the prestigious Kappelheim lecture, in a bid to become head of department; his buffoonery just reminds us how far we are from the nuanced academic intrigue of David Lodge's novels. The drama of the midlife crisis has never seemed more shopworn. (Kirkus Reviews)