The Time Of Our Lives by Imogen Parker
Bought this last Autumn at the Wimborne Literary Festival, after hearing the author speak. It covers a time period from the Coronation in 1953 through to a Woodstock-type music festival in 1969. It's set in a fictional Dorset coastal town of Kingsaven. At the heart of the novel are left-wing young teacher Michael who is falling out of love with his ambitious wife, and pretty schoolgirl Claudia. When the two meet there is an instant attraction.
But they don't act on this attraction straight away. The author deftly handles a huge cast of characters and dozens of subplots throughout the book. The action unfolds against a backdrop of the changing times, and in this book the background events almost felt like bitpart characters themselves. I found myself studying it from a writer's point of view - how did she do that?
It's a whopper of a book, and reads like a soap opera. At the start I found the frequent point of view changes and enormous number of characters frustrating - you just got into one character's head and it was time to get to grips with someone else. But by the end I was completely hooked and didn't want it to finish.
Just as well there's a further two books in the trilogy then!