My huge thanks to Urbane Publications for my review copy of ‘Close of Play’ by P J Whiteley
Brain Clarke is a typical middle aged, middle classed, unmarried cricket fanatic of middle England. Still living in a deceased relative’s house he sees little point in developing any romantic relationship whilst he has cricket and pub quizzes to occupy him. The Reverend Godfrey Charlton, whilst convinced Brian is called Colin, has his best interests at heart and introduces Brian to Elizabeth Giles. However, Brian is more comfortable with cricket than a relationship because ‘well, in cricket there are rules.’
I would say at the outset that I loathe cricket! Occasionally I didn’t want to hear the post match dissections or references to aspects like silly point. However, that said, I really enjoyed ‘Close of Play’. There is a warmth and humour in the writing so often missing from life as Brian finds himself trying to work out Elizabeth’s intentions as well as his own. Brian made me smile and frequently laugh aloud. You’ll have to read the book and I don’t want to spoil the plot, but his comment about the frog is just beautifully inappropriate and mistimed.
The first person narrative gives a refreshing male perspective and there is honesty and humility in Brian’s perception of the world that makes him totally endearing. His cricket team collectively constitute a kind of Everyman so that there are characters every reader will feel they can identify with and relate to.
What I liked most about ‘Close of Play’ is P J Whiteley’s ability to entertain without sensationalism. This is a nostalgic, gentle read about events that took place twenty years ago, with our universal desire for love at its centre and it succeeds brilliantly.