Due to a simple business mistake, Charlie Price finds his world turned upside down. His life of comfort in the big city has come to an end, his life and his reputation are both in tatters, and he finds himself in Coraloo, a tiny place utterly different to the big city.
His socialite wife Velveteen and shy son Gideon find it hard to adjust, but Charlie is more hopeful. A local fair sells things cheaply, and Charlie buys them cheaply and sells them on at a profit, enough profit to keep the family in Coraloo and their heads just about above the water-line.
However, his deeds, which some people believe to be morally wrong, find him the subject of unwanted attention, particularly from the Blackwells, who run the market, the cake stall, and have an old grudge going back decades with the former owners of the house that the Prices now live in.
The Blackwells are an exciting family, a lot different from the money and status families that the Prices are used to. They charm their ways into a new way of understanding, with both families benefitting from each other, the Prices becoming warmer and more approachable.
Soon though, Charlie begins to struggle, his new way of life is only sustainable in the short term, and he will have to make some tough choices to maintain it.
The story is told in two different timelines, one in the present day and the other in the 1920s and 1930s, about the life and times of the Blackwell family. The Death of Mungo Blackwell is a novel about the importance of family, and the importance of second chances, both given and earned, and the possibility of redemption. The story is told with believable, relatable characters, and the ending is touching and fitting.
Review by Ben Macnair
Published by Lion Fiction; New edition (18 Oct. 2019)
Paperback, ISBN 978-1782642916