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Paddy Thompson, speech therapist, newspaper columnist, is fifty and happy. His dark period is behind him: a failed marriage, a career crisis. Now he lives with Helena ('the best thing that ever happened to him'), helps kids with their speech problems, and has moved his mother into the next-door apartment. His life feels sane and settled. So what are these new signs of upset? One of his clients refuses to speak. Helena is under stress at work. His newspaper column has run out of puff. Paddy buys a bicycle. He feels, with a typical metaphorical flourish, that 'one of those great wheels of life had begun a revolution'. Then his mother presents him with the biggest challenge of his life. What follows, in this wonderfully expansive novel, takes Paddy deep into the vortex of family love.

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