Having cast aside The Lesser Bohemians, I picked The Dark Circle out of my library bag in its place. This was much more readable, written in a conventional third-person style, moving between points of view as the plot develops.
I appreciated the perspective on the dawning days of the NHS, and how rationing, waiting lists and condemnation of patients was always part of the culture. But the NHS itself was not the subject, far more how the circle of friends at the centre of this novel drew together, and each coped with and recovered from, their time in the institution. How they each managed in the prospect of death, and how ultimately each of them left.
It is a “coming of age” story, but one with a difference, in that the trial these young people pass through is one of its time. And the writing gives a perspective on that time, and a connection to the characters that makes the whole situation heartbreaking.
Very well-written, and a good selection of a slightly unusual subject-matter.