The Churchill Memorandum by Sean Gabb
Exciting Erudite Escapism in a Alternate History of Better Times
Trigger Warning – Graphic Depictions of Smoking
Dr Gabb’s novel is in a classic form: an introduction to several of the book’s key characters and including the alternate historical timeline from 1938 to 1959 – the exposition, with fast-paced action, several plot twists, and a rich interspersing of fictional and real contemporaneous characters – and the denouement which is both at times surreal and yet to my taste satisfying.
The protagonist, Dr Anthony Markham, as a precocious academic, is a reluctant and initially emotionally ill-equipped ‘hero’ – he is neither James Bond nor Dirty Harry, although on ‘the same side’ – but the story of intrigue and treachery in high places forces him to grow emotionally. There is more than a nod to Hannay. He must choose whether to retreat and condone the plot of eminent and sinister villains of the piece, or ‘to take up arms against a sea of trouble. And by opposing end them’. That choice is pivotal for his own integrity and for the fate of the British people.
Markham has flaws – he is ‘not as other men’ and so spurns the affections of Vicky, a delightful-sounding and cultured young filly in a silk dress, he is of mixed race (Indian being the other half thank heaven), and he is somewhat afflicted by addictions. He is crucially aided by Stanhope, a man with a disability, and Dr Pakeshi, a colonial doctor – so that should tick a few boxes for Postmodernist readers. I wonder whether the writer was tongue-in-cheek there! Fortunately, for people like me, there is no concession to (o tempora, o mores) of current culture in the narrative. Politically correct it is not.
Dr Gabb is a writer of histories, and his grasp of historical detail – real and fictional – is considerable, including references its own timeline’s ‘Y2K’ problem, a Faraday Cage, Sir John Anderson, Pressburg, gold vs. fiat currency, a forensic paper anachronism, and a slyly-inserted quote from Dr Heinz Kiosk.
For those who, again like me, are sick and tired of the collapse in English culture since 1960, this is a welcome cultural and political relief – what could have been, and perhaps one day will be. I Wish it was now. Do read it. At 224 pages you can do it in a day.
Review published on Amazon on the 6th May 2018
© 2018, seangabb.
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