9-year old Lawrence narrates the tale of an extraordinary journey to Rome undertaken when his mother flees from his ostensibly dark and violent father.  Told in an authentic childlike and artless manner, complete with spelling mistakes, bad grammar and a little boy’s fascination with horrible histories and outer space, the real story is one that gradually emerges from between the lines.  

Kneale, recently said ” “I love cooking, and writing is like that. You think, Ah, I’ll put a bit of that in, now that’s right. You have a feeling that somehow it will make a good meal.”   Using the analogy, he has blended an entertaining mix of ingredients to create a palatable and tasty dish.  It’s not masterchef – Kneale is too reliant on the presentation – the effects and the narrative voice.  In the final analysis there’s not really much nutrition or substance in the story to digest, deliberate or cogitate.  

when-we-were-romans-proof.jpgwhen-we-were-romans-proof.jpgwhen-we-were-romans-proof.jpgwhen-we-were-romans-proof.jpgA mystery greater than the real story is why the hardback edition has such a when-we-were-romans-proof.jpgwhen-we-were-romans-proof.jpgtraditional (and frankly) boring cover. They could have used the attractively colourful, playful and inventive proof copy cover which is a far better reflection of the book content.  Here’s hoping the design is used on the paperback.