Minding | Granta

  • Published: 10/05/2007
  • ISBN: 9781846270796
  • 130x20mm
  • 192 pages


Chris Paling

Now that Billy lives with his new family, he and his mother only get to see each other four times a year. These brief visits are what Billy dreams of and they’re the reason why Jane struggles to get up every day, to keep her flat tidy, and to behave in the way she’s learned that other people consider ‘normal’. But as their day together approaches, Jane receives a sudden and violent reminder of her troubled past and ends up in the hospital again, missing their appointment. It is only when Billy eats the piece of chocolate he’s been saving since their last meeting that he discovers the message she’d written on the inside of the wrapper, along with an address, and there suddenly seems to be a possibility that they can be with each other again – but this will mean dodging the authorities and finally confronting the legacy of Jane’s own damaged childhood.

This is the moving and uplifting story of a young mother and her son – kept apart by mental illness, brought back together by love. It is certain to find admirers among readers of Zoe Heller, Esther Freud, Helen Simpson, Gill Hornby, Lionel Shriver, Shena Mackay, Lavinia Greenlaw, Andrea Ashworth and Julia Darling.

Chris Paling has a wonderfully accurate and intimate way of describing that trapdoor underneath our society. Very moving

Hugo Hamilton, author of THE SPECKLED PEOPLE

Paling is a great thing among British writers - he keeps on experimenting


This beguiling novel moves quietly from the humorous to the harrowing to the gently hopeful. At its heart is Jane, a young woman struggling with mental illness. Her son, Billy, was taken away from her some years ago. He's now 11, and so long as she can manage to appear outwardly 'normal

they get to see one another every few months. A visit is imminent when a story in the local newspaper catapults Jane back into her troubled past. Luckily she has people to look out for her, including Alf, a grumpy yet tender-hearted pensioner, Sugar Plum Fairy, her friend from the loony bin, and Patrick, a flirty gay bookseller who sees her foibles as sings of passionate individualism. Meanwhile, Billy is plotting his escape from sterile foster parents, back to Jane. It's his actions that will lead her to confront the legacy of her own damaged childhood.

The Author

Chris Paling is the author of eight previous novels including Deserters, The Silent Sentry and The Repentant Morning (all published by Cape/Vintage) and most recently Minding (Portobello 2007). He lives in Brighton and is the producer for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Midweek’.

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From the Same Author

Nimrod's Shadow

Chris Paling

Reilly is an impoverished painter who lives alone in a shabby garret, with only his unsold canvases and his faithful dog Nimrod for company. He seems destined to remain in artistic obscurity until the most influential art critic of the time begins to notice his talent. But no sooner has he found a patron than the critic is found drowned in a local canal and the trail leads directly back to Reilly. From Reilly’s prison cell in Edwardian London to an exclusive gallery in contemporary Soho, the clues that lead to the real murderer lie carefully hidden, until the day when Samantha, a young office assistant, finds herself drawn to one of Reilly’s pictures and decides to embark on her own investigation … Steeped in atmosphere and laced with intrigue, Nimrod’s Shadow is a gripping tale of genius, jealousy and revenge – with a few twists and turns along the way.