BOOK REVIEW Joy
Reviewed by: Monidipa Fouzder
Author: Jonathan Lee
Publisher: William Heinemann
On a Friday afternoon at the glass offices of Hanger, Slyde & Stein in London’s Square Mile, newly promoted partner Joy Stephens is standing on a second-floor platform, giving a big speech to colleagues below her. And then she plunges 40ft on to the marble ground. Did she jump? Did she accidentally fall? Does she die?
The answers to those questions are revealed through a detailed account from Joy of her life in the days leading up to the tragic event, interspersed with insightful first-hand tales from those around her that reveal an existence full of the antithesis of joy.
I pray the personal lives of our protagonist and her colleagues at Hanger, Slyde & Stein do not resemble real life, otherwise lawyers have far bigger and more important issues to deal with than ABSs and LASPO.
None of the key characters seem particularly likeable, namely Joy’s dreary husband Dennis, her hard-working and hedonistic colleague Peter and her cranky PA Barbara, but thanks to an unusual narrative construction that makes us, the reader, feel like we are talking one-to-one with these comical yet sad figures, we are forced to reevaluate our initial judgements of them.
Following on from the success of Who is Mr Satoshi?, Joy is the second novel from author Jonathan Lee. His ability to produce a wonderfully written concoction of dark humour, grief, shock and poignancy (I had to reread the ending twice, it was so unexpected and moving) makes Joy a must-read for anyone who wants some dark-hearted relief.
Monidipa Fouzder is a sub-editor at the Law Society Gazette