New Labour is about to take over, newspapers are obsessed by the private lives of pop stars, models and footballers, and veteran war correspondent Honor Tait and her kind are an endangered species. But is Tait really such a beacon of truth and integrity? And is compassion the first casualty in the search for a good story?
There are two sides to every story.
Two women journalists – one old, one young, one a veteran war correspondent, the other a writer of celebrity gossip – meet for the first time. It is January 1997, the dying days of John Major’s government, and newspapers, fighting for a dwindling readership, are plunging downmarket amid wild rumours that the internet is about to change the world for ever. Honor Tait (b. 1917), one of the most renowned journalists of her era, is haunted by her past; Tamara Sim (b. 1970), who compiles lists of what’s in and what’s out for Psst!, the weekend entertainment supplement of The Monitor, is struggling to secure her future, at any cost, in an increasingly precarious industry. When Sim is sent to interview Tait, their mutual incomprehension generates a rich seam of dark comedy. But when their different worlds finally collide, the consequences are devastating.
McAfee’s trenchant first novel is part satire, part portrait of an era poised unknowingly on the brink of a technological revolution. New Labour is about to take over, newspapers are increasingly obsessed by the private lives of popstars, models and footballers, and Honor Tait and her kind are an endangered species. But is Tait really such a beacon of truth and integrity? And, as this darkly witty novel asks, is compassion the first casualty in the search for a good story?