The novel concerns the political and social environment in Britain during the 1980s, and covers the period up to the beginning of aerial bombardment against Iraq in the first Gulf War in January 1991. It is a critique of British politics under the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher (and, briefly, John Major) and of the ways in which national policy was seen to be dictated by the concerns of narrow, but powerful, interest groups with influence in banking, the media, agriculture, healthcare, the arms trade and the arts. Coe creates the fictitious Winshaw family to embody these different interests under one name and, ultimately, one roof.
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