24 for 3

Published: 2008
Pages: 138
Author: Walker, Jennie
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 3 stars

The first thing to know about this book is that Jennie Walker is the pen name for Charles Boyle, an English poet.  This fact caused a shock at an awards night when Boyle went on stage to collect an award, it being assumed that Boyle was Walker’s agent.

The basic premise concerns a married woman in London, who is having an affair. Her lover is a cricket fan who is following a Test between England and India. Her husband is also a cricket fan but the woman has never taken an interest in the game until her curiosity is piqued by her lover.

The book is broken up into the days of play and a number of parallels between life and the game are interwoven throughout the story. Since the main character is a cricket novice some of the observations are simplistic although, despite this, always interesting.

The author starts with a tryst and slowly, through the cricketing observations, introduces the main characters. Just like cricket there are no real villains and as we see the characters through the woman who is having the affair you don’t really have any dislike for her either.

In the end, and perhaps surprisingly, the woman gleans most of her cricketing knowledge from her husband. She must have been a good student as at one point she is asked to umpire a family match. This role as umpire is a prelude to the final decision (all cricketers know the umpire’s decision is final).

While the main character initially doesn’t realise it, the reader will know, that sooner or later she will have to choose between her lover and her husband. Again cricket offers her insights and helps her to weigh up the final decision.

There is probably not as much cricket as most of our readers would prefer and I found myself often wondering how the Test match was developing. The match in question is really just scenery for the main story but despite this I still enjoyed this little book. I am sure Ms Mac will enjoy it too and she is almost halfway through it as I type this review.

Cricket fiction is probably the most neglected and poorest of the vast literature on the game. 24 for 3 has certainly lifted the quality of the cricket fiction genre and is well worth a read.


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