The Pangloss family has a sense of its own great past, which it harnesses to wrestle and rise above the grim poverty of pre-war Liverpool. Despite the harsh reality of their circumstances there is a life affirming energy and hubris in the Pangloss myth that they inhabit the best of all possible worlds. As the family diaspora continues through war, pestilence, and tragedy in the twentieth and then twenty-first century these deep-rooted notions are continually challenged and the subject of self-doubt and denial.
The principal character is David Pangloss, a moral, unassuming, high functioning insurance man, yet an unavoidably damaged and flawed human being with a deep-rooted penchant for voyeurism. There is a psychosexual tension that perversely dovetails with his wife Edwina while antagonising his talented, feisty daughter Abigail. Aspirational and socially mobile the family goes to live in Cheltenham.
The book also follows the life of David’s war hero cousin, Eamon, whose experience flying with 249 Squadron during the siege of Malta leaves him introspective as he battles and overcomes his demons as an exile in the peace and tranquillity of Goa, where he immerses himself in his beloved jazz music.
This fictional family saga is infused with a rollercoaster of events that are both terrible and momentous and yet largely follow a true to life historical trajectory that eventually becomes increasingly surreal. The catalogue of variously horrendous incidents has a resonance with the extravagant machinations, denial and irony conjured by Voltaire in his work Candide.
Leo Samuel Goatley practised as a solicitor for over thirty years, initially as an in-house insurance lawyer before setting up his own office in Gloucester, where he covered heavy duty criminal cases. In his formative years he travelled with his father, who was in the RAF, and so spent his childhood in Malta, Singapore and the USA, as well as in the UK. Leo holds Bachelor degrees in science and engineering, and a Masters in Fine Art.
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