Sunday, 22 July 2018


Fragments is a new novel from lawyer turned author John Ellison.

It's a novel that draws heavily on the maxim "Borrow from history, build from imagination."

It's a piece of historical fiction, yet a piece of recent history, set in the 1960s and beyond.

Rather than writing a 'straight' memoir, John Ellison has decided to mine memoir to create a fictionalised story which he uses to tell the life, from his point of view, of Clive Bates, who, from his position as a retired law lecturer, looks back all the way to 1968 when he leaves University with a law degree and takes up his first teaching post.

There are a rather eclectic (dare one say also slightly eccentric?)  group of fellow lecturers in the college's Business and General Studies Department of East Ham Technical College.

Potential problems are flagged from the early pages of the novel when one of his colleagues airly annonces that: "Teaching a class of pretty girls about erotic references in the poems of John Donne and being paid for it is in my view a reasonable way of making a living."

However, as he doesn't expect to remain in the employ of the East Ham Technical College for long, that might or might not be a problem for those concerned!

There's snobbish behaviour from some chap who was educated at Oxford and a colleague always ready to fulminate on the advantages of Socialism at, or without, the drop of a hat all adding to the general atmosphere of the East Ham Technical College's Business and General Studies Department!

However, this is all set against casual sexism and everyday racism, the sudden shock of the speeches of Enoch Powell, the Russian invasion of Chekassloakia, the massive anti-Vietnam war demonstration in London and the US Presidential election of 1968.

John Ellison uses the historical backdrop to interweave the life story of Clive Bates into a very enjoyable and realistic memoir, albeit a fictional one.

It's published by Matador at £8.99

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