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Here We Are by Graham Swift


Here We Are is set in Brighton, England - more specifically in the theatre at the end of the pier. Jack Robinson is the compere of the annual variety show, which is having its summer run. A young magician, Ronnie, and his assistant Evie are starring in the show and are becoming more and more popular as the season progresses. The year is 1959. Post war England.


Jack and Ronnie had met in the army where they both became known for their entertaining skills. When Jack signs up to be a compere at the Brighton show, he arranges for Ronnie to have a spot, suggesting he finds himself an assistant first. Ronnie advertises in the newspaper, and along comes Evie, who fits the bill, and together they become Pablo and Eve.


As a war-time child, Ronnie was sent away from his mother in London, as many children were, to live with another family. The Lawrences don’t have any children of their own, and Ronnie discovers a comfortable and pleasant life very different to that of his early years. Mr Lawrence, it turns out, is a magician, and this is where Ronnie learns his craft (much to the horror of his real mother).


The threesome of Jack, Ronnie and Evie will inevitably have its challenges. As the story develops, so too do the twists and turns of their relationships. Ronnie and Evie are engaged to be married, but we know from the very beginning of the story that this doesn’t happen – Evie throws her engagement ring off the end of the pier. Why she does so will eventually be revealed.


This is a lovely story, very nicely written. The development of the characters is such that they feel like old friends. This is a compact little novel, easily read in a couple of sittings. It is both amusing, quaint and a little sad, but definitely an enjoyable read.


Reviewer: Reviewer: Rachel White

Simon and Schuster Publishing 1 March 2020

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