On a midsummer’s night, Paula lies awake beside her sleeping husband. She and Mike have been married for twenty-five years, a good marriage; they have two teenage children, Nick and Kate, peacefully sleeping in their own nearby rooms. But Paula’s eyes won’t close: the next morning she and Mike have to tell the children something that will redefine all their lives.
Recalling the years before and after her children were born, Paula begins a story that is both a glowing celebration of love possessed and a moving acknowledgement of the fear of loss, of the fragilities, illusions and secrets on which even our most intimate sense of who we are can rest. As day draws nearer, Paula’s intensely personal thoughts seem to touch on all our tomorrows.
Brilliantly distilling half a century into one suspenseful night, as tender in its tone as it is deep in its resonance, Tomorrow is a magical exploration of coupledom, parenthood and individuality, and a unique meditation on the mysteries of happiness and belonging.
It’s a week past your sixteenth birthday. By a fluke that’s become something of an embarrassment and that some people will say wasn’t a fluke at all, you were born in Gemini. I’m not an especially superstitious woman. I married a scientist. But one little thing I’ll do tomorrow–today, I mean, but for a little while still I can keep up the illusion–is cross my fingers.
Everything’s quiet, the house is still. Mike and I have anticipated this moment, we’ve talked about it and rehearsed it in our heads so many times that recently it’s sometimes seemed like a relief: it’s actually come. On the other hand, it’s monstrous, it’s outrageous–and it’s in our power to postpone it. But ‘after their sixteenth birthday’, we said, and let’s be strict about it. Perhaps you may even appreciate our discipline and tact. Let’s be strict, but let’s not be cruel. Give them a week. Let them have their birthday, their last birthday of that old life.
You’re sleeping the deep sleep of teenagers. I just about remember it. I wonder how you’ll sleep tomorrow.
From the Hardcover edition.
READ AN EXCERPT
You're asleep, my angels, I assume. So, to my amazement and relief, is your father, like a man finding it in him to sleep on the eve of his execution. He'll need all he can muster tomorrow. I'm the only one awake in this house on this night before the day that will change all our lives. Though it...
1. Tomorrow begins, “You’re asleep, my angels, I assume.” What is the effect of reading a narrative that is addressed, specifically, to someone else? Why might Graham Swift have chosen this narrative structure? How would the effect of the novel be different if it were addressed to a different...
“The story draws the reader on like the best whodunit–or, whydunnit. Yet it is also a profoundly artful, beautifully weighted, resonant and humane literary novel.”
“Leave it to one of the great modern storytellers to pen a mystery where the crime is the least important element . . . Swift fashions the detective archetype into a workshop for a discussion of human identity.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“[Swift] is a wonderfully original writer and his new work lives up to his reputation as one of England’s finest living novelists . . . an intriguing, even mystifying story of the power of passion, murder and redemption.”
Praise for Last Orders:
“Graham Swift is a purely wonderful writer, and Last Orders, full of gravity and affection and stylistic brilliance, proves it precisely.”
“Book for book, Swift is surely one of England’s finest living novelists.”
—New York Review of Books
From the Hardcover edition.