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Waiting for Sheila

By John Braine

Outwardly he appears the hero of a success story; inside he nurses a secret wound.

Who would not envy Jim Seathwaite? General Manager of a large department store in a big Surrey town, with a luxurious house, beautiful wife, two children, enough money to indulge himself. Jim has come a long way from his humble Lancashire beginnings.

Yet it soon becomes clear, as we share with Jim the memories, obsessions and secret guilts which form his past life, that only one thing – one person – rules his life now. Sheila, once his boss’s secretary, now Jim’s wife. For Jim has a problem, despite all the surface success. Sheila alone can solve it, but she exacts a price …

With a master’s insight John Braine explores the delicate web of tensions, compromises and unspoken fears that underlie a marriage. Noted for his exploration of masculinity via memorable characters like Joe Lampton, iconic hero of his best-seller Room at the Top, here Braine digs into the male psyche and deep-seated fears around sexual adequacy. Can Jim perform with a woman, having witnessed his father’s death, probably as a result of his mother’s adultery with his uncle?

John Braine was at the centre of the arts movement in post-war Britain known as the Angry Young Men, a group which introduced new themes and voices to an often stuffy and conservative post-war literary establishment. Originally published in 1976, Waiting for Sheila is a perfect illustration of the mores and atmosphere of that era. It is, as the hero says, a love story, but one with a difference, a ring of truth, that creates a novel of exceptional quality.

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