Martin Sproale is a mild, conventional assistant postmaster living in a small English coastal town, the only exceptional thing about him being his obsession with Ernest Hemingway. This is confined harmlessly enough to an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything about the man and to living in a room surrounded by Hemingway memorabilia.
But when an ambitious young outsider, Nick Marshall, is appointed postmaster over Martin’s head and starts to transform the friendly local post office for privatisation and the high-tech challenges of the twenty-first century, Martin is faced with a choice – to go along with the drastic changes or to be like his hero and fight for what he believes in.
Egged on by an American scholar, Ruth Kohler, who is living nearby while completing a book in Hemingway, Martin allows his obsession to take over more and more of his life, culminating in a final, reckless act of revenge against the ruthless modernisers.
Michael’s first novel, wry and devastating by turns, offers an engaging portrait of a small-town community confronting the men in suits and facing the future with some bafflement and trepidation.