The Broken Chariot
Flamingo, 1999 - 299 pages
A superb creation of love, life and class in the post-war world.
When Herbert Thurgarton-Strang was seven, his parents - as loving, as doting as any parents of their generation - took him away from India and left him in a boarding school in England which had everything to recommend it except pity. Through the stifling, alarming years which follow, Herbert is held together by the notion of revenge on those loving parents, and by the knowledge that, over there, a new world beckons.
And when he's seventeen, he steals away from school, steals away from Herbert, becomes a different boy; becomes, in Nottingham, Bert the lathe-worker, Bert the womaniser, Bert the soldier, Bert the sometime bruiser. Plunged into the louche life, he bobs like a cork, but eventually Bert/Herbert does lay his demons to rest.