A skilful road rage novel looks at Britain through a motorway microcosm

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

I picked Jam as one of the books for the Foxy Book Shelf Summer Reading List as I’m a big fan of this genre of contemporary fiction, and Jam certainly fills the criteria with a Ben Eltonesque look at the nation through the lens of something most of us have to ensure on a daily basis. The novel starts with a setting the scene type dash around London before finally settling on the M25 as the traffic slows and finally comes to a complete halt. The writing is beautiful and for the first ten chapters at least I found it hard to put down.

The characterisations of British life are pretty spot on and this novel really captures the zeitgeist. Authors often shy away from anchoring tomes to dates, but Jake Wallis Simons dives right in to the moment with a book that feels as though it were written yesterday. This could possibly mean it won’t age well, although it may serve as an accurate portrayal of the days we’re living through, shut in our cocoons, scared to interact with the outside world.

Jam brings together a fair cross-section of British society and captures each of the modern issues we face pretty effectively, but it is a very British novel and I’m not sure how a worldwide audience would receive it.

By about two-thirds of the way through I was starting to feel as though I’d been stuck in a traffic jam for 6 hours too and I was beginning to be glad the story was winding up. It’s worth sticking out to the end though and in the end all the stories are concluded very well, each with their point to make.

 

Reviewed by:

Kath Cross

Added 20th June 2015

More Reviews By
Kath Cross

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

After watching the interview on Foxy Bingo with Kath introducing the Foxy book club and giving the summer reading list I found myself interested in Jam by Jake Wallis Simons – a story about a traffic jam on the M25.

The first few pages bombard you with information which I found I had to re-read a few times before it stuck, then with the introduction of the first few groups of characters the story plodded along at a monotonous crawl with dialogue between characters frequently repeating.

The separate story lines begin to develop gaining interest, wanting to figure out what’s going on between Max and Ursula, what’s going on with the three stoners Stevie, Dave and Natalie, find out what Rhys, Chris and Monty have been doing before arriving in the traffic jam, what happened at the wedding Shauna attended and see if Jim can keep the shopping in his Waitrose van locked up, but as the stories develop I found myself fighting the urge to pick up something else to read.

Continuing through the chapters there is a section about the history of the M25 which I felt was just plonked in as a secondary thought and further on is a conversation that gives information about places of interest around points of the M25 which is mildly better integrated.

To be honest I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would partly due to the ridiculously excessive amount of bad language.

 

Reviewed by:

Jayson Peel

Added 20th June 2015

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