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Upfronts:Minister Without Portfolio

336 pages19 minutes


Henry Hayward is a drowning man. With a soured long-term romance finally at an end, no family, and no refuge to be had in work, his days are progressively spent in the solace of alcohol and his nights with a series of interchangeable partners. In a quest to simultaneously recover from unrequited love and find meaning in what is becoming an increasingly emotionally arid life, Henry attempts to enlist in the army for posting to Afghanistan – and is refused. Undaunted, he applies for a citizen’s observatory post on an arts grant from the government and is accepted. When Henry becomes embedded in the regiment, he doesn’t have time to think about his fixation on Nora or the fragments of his old life – a life he wasn’t really living anyway. But everything changes during a tragic roadside incursion; a routine patrol suddenly turns fatal. And Henry, who survives, knows in his heart that he is responsible. Upon his return home, now tormented by guilt in addition to ennui, Henry begins to feel even more rootless and restless than before until the question of his deceased friend’s summer home arises. Soon Henry finds himself trying to bring meaning back into his life and make posthumous amends by planning to buy and repair his friend’s dilapidated family house. But he hasn’t factored family history into the picture – and his deceased friend’s girlfriend has a revelation of her own, which may change everything.

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