Peerless Flats By Esther Freud

What made me pick up Peerless Flats when I found it in a charity shop a number of years ago is a mystery. What is more of a mystery is what made me pick it up as my next book to read through. The reviews from 1993, when this book was revealed, to more recent reviews hardly sing its praises and yet a part of me wanted everybody else to be wrong.

They were not wrong. This book had so much potential and could have really packed a hard hitting punch but instead it was just a wishy washy story that came close to discussing issues and making a bold statement about society but it constantly fell short of the mark. The plot line was wholly unremarkable, the characters largely lacking personality or enough of anything to give you empathy for them and the writing of the story itself was dry.

Modern day Penguin book

The plot presented of a family leaving the countryside, essentially being homeless in London and crammed into a tiny flat with the “temporary” label, and becoming mixed up in love, drugs and anorexia is a combination that gave the expectation of tears, a real journey and a well-researched understanding of the concepts being presented but it very much felt like it was written by somebody with no regard for the sensitivity of the situation or the impact that their words could have.

To put it politely, this book is an absolute disaster. I got to the end of it being bitterly disappointed that I had battled through the first chapters waiting for the emotional punch and aloud whispered the words “was that it? what was the point in that?”. There was no point and it would not even stand up to being a good airport read. I would not recommend this book and it has certainly put me off the idea of reading anything else by Esther Freud.

Close up of book front cover

This book has sort of thrown me off a little because reading a bad book sort of puts me off reading, which I am desperately trying to get into, because so much time was spent reading a book hoping that it would get better and it just never did. Those hours could have been better spent doing something else where at least some sort of lesson would have been learned or some sort of thoughts might have been provoked but this did none of that.

Part of me wants to take it to the nearest charity shop immediately but the other part of me does not want to inflict this book on anybody else because it is just so pointless and meaningless. Perhaps that is the life lesson here and that it will help somebody else to remember that there really is so shit literature out there.

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