Middle England is a “Condition of England” novel, rather as James Robertson’s And The Land Lay Still was a “Condition of Scotland” one. It’s a familiar type of novel, dating back to the 1840s at least, to the novels of Disraeli, Elizabeth Gaskell, Dickens and, later, Trollope. One may think they had it easier than a novelist attempting this sort of thing today. The Victorian novelists had more freedom to invent; they were scarcely even loosely chained to actuality. They could, for instance, give a Prime Minister a fictional name. Dickens could set Hard Times in “Coketown”. Today the novelist – Jonathan Coe in this case – is a prisoner of the Information Age. His fictional characters must respond to real-life events: the general election which led to the Conservative/LibDem coalition and the programme of austerity, the city riots of 2012, the London Olympics, the 2015 election, the 2016 EU referendum. How they respond, what their responses tell us about the Condition of England, this is what must concern the novelist.