One day can change your life...It's 1977, the day of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, when a photographer captures a moment forever: a festive street party with bunting and Union Jacks fluttering in the breeze and, right in the centre of the frame, a small Asian boy staring intensely at the camera. The photo becomes infamous when it is adopted as a symbol of everything that is great and good about Britain, but what is the real story behind it? Relationships between the neighbours on Cherry Gardens are far from easy, and minor frictions threaten to erupt as the street party begins...Fast forward to the present and that boy, Satish, is now a successful paediatric heart surgeon, saving lives and families every single day. But he's living with a secret - he's addicted to controlled prescription drugs. A message about a proposed reunion of the children in the photograph throws his life into turmoil as he thinks back to Jubilee Day, and the events that changed his life for ever.
My own memories of 1977 are vivid, because I had just given birth for the first time. Harris?s sense of period is spot-on. Her descriptions of fashion, television, pop music and the emergence of punk, are totally authentic. But it is her understanding of what it was like to be an Asian family living amongst white ones that really makes the story sing. Gradually we realise that although Satish?s neighbours see themselves as welcoming and unprejudiced, bigotry and intolerance lurk just below the surface. It doesn?t take much to expose them and poor Satish?s ghastly experiences on the day of the street party are truly anguishing. It is no wonder he wants to forget them. Once the fuss surrounding the photo dies down, Satish thinks he can return to comforting obscurity. Unfortunately the man who took the snap, a local newspaper photographer, has other ideas. The picture is his ticket to better things and to Satish?s horror, it is adapted for the album cover of a punk band (clearly based on the Sex Pistols). The image goes global as a classic of Britpop art and Satish is more famous than ever. Worse, thirty years on, The Sunday Times wants to commission a re-take, featuring everyone in the original from 30 years earlier. Satish comes under huge pressure to agree. He has never spoken to anyone about that humiliating day ? not even his wife. No-one understands his deep reluctance to have anything to do with the project and we, the readers, are only slowly let into his dreadful secret. That makes for an arresting, compelling read. Unputdownable.
Shelley Harris was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967, to a South African mother and a British father. She has worked, among other things, as a teacher, a reporter, a mystery shopper and a bouncer at a teen disco. When she is not writing, she volunteers at her local Oxfam bookshop, helping customers find just the right book. Her first novel Jubilee was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, a Top Ten bestseller and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.