In a bit of a jam

Cover of JamI always read the list of Fiction new titles that comes out each month. The librarian who creates this list puts enough information to whet the appetite and nicely indicates books that might appeal to all tastes. Jam by Jake Simons was a good example of this and made me curious:

A state of the nation novel about what happens when the flow of traffic halts on the M25 and lives combine unexpectedly.

Having been in a few traffic jams (especially in Christchurch at the moment) I have often wondered what people in other cars are thinking and doing. Do they use the time to catch up on work, apply their make-up, deal to ratty children or continue the argument they were involved in when the traffic came to a halt. We all assume that soon we will be on the move, but what happens when nothing happens, when there is no information and no cell phone coverage and night is approaching?

The M25 is a massive road stretching 188km around Greater London. When it comes to a halt, thousands of vehicles have nowhere to go. Gradually people leave their cars, alliances are formed, enemies are made and all is set for a bumpy ride.

Our fiction selector is right when he says that this book is a state of the nation novel, all sorts of subjects are touched on via the people who inhabit their Peugeots, Chryslers and Vans. Why was the M25 needed in the first place, is it ok to have an affair and not tell your partner, how can you know anything if the smart phone won't work, can insects save the world from starvation, and are the immigrants in the next car really responsible for the demise of England and the loss of work for the three National Front supporters parked nearby?

In the space of one night, lives are played out inside the microcosm of cars and roadsides. Time without the intrusion of the outside world enables some characters to make life changing decisions, others merely wait for their lives to start up along with their engines. It's an interesting premise for a book and one I thoroughly enjoyed.


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