Deck, by Fiona Farrell (Vintage 2023)

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Taking its form from Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, The Deck describes six days during a pandemic, as a group of people escape to a house in the country, where they eat, drink, and tell stories about their lives. It's a brilliant and propulsive read, addictive, inventive, written in an archly satirical style, funny and thought provoking. In the background of the reading of this book is the uncertainty of what is happening in the rest of the world, as the pandemic in the novel seems rather more serious than COVID! This is a vital book for these uncertain times, concluded by a chapter called The Author's Conclusion which powerfully summarises the facts of the COVID years.