On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, Richard Cunliffe’s Red Leicester Blues is the story of Billy Prendergast’s family dynamics and the release of his brother from prison.
Billy Prendergast is one of those characters that feels like a mate.
Telling the story from the perspective Billy’s childhood, and Will’s adult success, Red Leicester Blues (the author’s fourth work of fiction) is a literary delight. And, whilst covering some heavy themes (including politics and class) it keeps the reader eager to find out how things pan out for its highly relatable protagonist, both in his love life and following the imminent release from prison of his miscreant brother.
Witty, poignant and skilfully capturing the Pandemic and Brexit zeitgeist, the standout of this novel is not in its rags to riches plot, but in it’s ‘ordinary guy’ protagonist, and his observations on family dynamics, politics and the trials and tribulations of daily life.
Deserving of more than a single moment in the literary spotlight, Will Prendergast bears all the hallmarks of a character around which a series could be based. And, based on the novel’s highly favourable reviews, there’s an audience ready and waiting to learn what Will does next.
Red Leicester Blues
Set in an English midlands town, Red Leicester Blues is a story written in two timelines. As a child in the 1970s, Billy Prendergast is bookish and thoughtful. He’s enthusiastic about words and language, and fanatical about the TV programme Doctor Who. Additionally, Billy is sensitive about the world and his place within it, suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder long before most people had heard of the condition.
His parents are politically minded: his dad, in particular, is an active socialist. Yet Billy’s precocious political interest follows a different course: as an admirer of Margaret Thatcher he’s pleased when she’s elected to power and hopes her premiership will change his family’s life for the better.
Come the 21st century, Billy Prendergast calls himself Will. His passion for words has served him well, as he’s one of two partners in a highly-successful advertising firm. Nowadays, he has his OCD under control, and although his politics haven’t changed much, he is capable of seeing someone else’s point of view. This open-mindedness serves him well as he strives, professionally and personally, to steer a course through the complexities of both the Brexit process and the Covid 19 pandemic.
Will’s romantic life is a mess, however. A divorcee with two grown-up children, he’s been single for several years, and despite his artfulness with language he can’t find the words to ask Philippa – his attractive personal assistant – out on a date. Meanwhile, even bigger troubles loom large. Keith Prendergast – Will’s spiteful, violent, grudge-bearing elder brother – is about to be released from prison, thereby reopening some old and bitter rivalries which may prove an obstacle too far for Will to overcome.
About Richard Cunliffe
Richard Cunliffe was born in Whitworth, Lancashire, in January 1968. Exiled from the north west at the age of two, he grew up and went to school in Leamington Spa and has since lived in various locations throughout the UK and Ireland, moving home many times due to work commitments. Nowadays, however, he is pretty settled in north-east Derbyshire.
An avid reader and keen writer, one of Richard’s earliest (and favourite) writing memories is of winning a national competition for creating a Doctor Who adventure. He was around eight years old at the time (Richard, not the Doctor), and although it took another four decades for him to publish his debut novel, “All These Nearly Fights”, he then published its sequel, “Fault on Both Sides”, within the following few months. Both books have received widespread acclaim.
Richard’s third book of fiction was published in November 2019 and was similarly well received. “They’re Closing the Lamb and Musket” is a comedic drama concerning the impending closure of a much-loved pub, and the struggles of its customers to keep The Lamb open even as their personal lives descend into chaos. This novel was followed in December 2021 by another contemporary drama, “Red Leicester Blues”, which is already picking up very favourable reviews.
Meanwhile, Richard’s non-fiction work, “How to Buy a Car”, is exactly that. It’s a book about how to buy a car and draws on his several years of experience as a car salesman, enabling readers not only to choose the right car for them, but also to negotiate a great deal.
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