Unwritten Rules

Unwritten Rules

By Graham Donnelly

Format: Paperback

(4 customer reviews)

Publication Date: 28 Feb 2020


Categories: Crime and Thrillers, Historical

ISBN: 9781913208202


The year is 1962. Anthony Fernard is a civil servant with a minor but responsible position in the Home Office. He has a steady job and a reasonably happy home life. His run of the mill routine is enlivened by a mild entanglement with a young woman and a tendency to do things his own way at work, whatever the official line.

Through his inside contacts at the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence he learns how extremely serious the Cuban Missile Crisis has become, with the United States and the Soviet Union in a deadly game of chicken Confronting the possibility of only a day or two until a nuclear war will devastate the world he flings caution to the wind, embarking on a love affair and making a reckless decision which will compromise his position and draw him into a world of blackmail and espionage.

At first he enjoys the excitement of his new impulsive and unpredictable life against the background of a Britain rocked by a succession of security and ministerial crises. But as events unfold he gradually realises that the consequences for himself and those he cares about are full of unforeseen and potentially dangerous outcomes. How will Anthony resolve his dilemmas as his life threatens to spin out of his control?

Graham Donnelly now lives in Colchester but was brought up in Homerton, London. He has a degree in Economics from the University of London and his professional background is in government service, including the Home Office, merchant and international banking and also lecturing in economics and management. His first historical thriller, Mussolini’s Chest was published by Book Guild in January 2019. 


That's Books (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021

This is a well-crafted spy novel from published author Graham Donnelly and former civil servant and it certainly captures the feelings of the time and evokes the fevered nature of those years.

Dot Marshall-Gent (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021

The book evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of English suburban living during the 1960s. Anthony’s wife, Ruth, is located at home with the couple’s two sons whilst her husband commutes into town hoping to pull himself and his family ever higher up the socio-economic ladder. Gender norms are everywhere in evidence and if Ruth is trapped in the marriage so Anthony is constrained by his role as head of the household in a job that seems to be going nowhere. Fernard is an intriguing protagonist precisely because he is so ordinary. His risky behaviour seems clichéd in the twenty-first century, but he is a creature of his time – not always likeable, but never completely despicable either. A series of small, but cumulative, errors of judgement conspire against him. They are all of his own making and yet I felt a surprising amount of sympathy for him.

Unwritten Rules is a corker of a novel. Well researched, well written and immensely readable. I loved it.

Graham1 (Amazon Customer) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021

This is the second work of fiction from Graham Donnelly and I hope there are plenty more to come!

In Unwritten Rules, he captures perfectly the atmosphere of the time, when the world was on the brink of utter disaster. He also makes us aware of how different our lives were, especially at home. The husband was the breadwinner and his wife’s job was to bring up the children, be a dutiful spouse and not ask too many questions. (Single women had more freedom but less security.) But you also sense that things are beginning to change.

The characters are beautifully portrayed and I felt I got to know them – but not necessarily to like them all!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was so sorry when I finished it. I wanted to carry on observing the life of Anthony Fernard. This, surely, is the sign of a great read.

Roy Mytton Thornycroft (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Graham Donnelly’s second novel.

The book centres on Anthony Fernard and relates to his job as a civil servant at the Home Office in 1962. Despite his stable position and family life, his tendency to be a bit of a maverick eventually has serious consequences due to a flawed decision he makes at work.

It is an interesting time in world politics with the ongoing tension between the US and the Soviet Union leading to the Cuban Missile crisis, and the possibility of nuclear war. Additionally, the UK Government is beset by several ministerial and security crises, including the Profumo Affair.

Belatedly, Anthony realises that certain decisions, which to him at the time may have seemed relatively inconsequential, can in fact result in unforeseen and serious situations.
Well written and researched, the book has interesting observations of life in the UK, and the City of London, in the early 1960s. The characterisations of the main participants are acutely observed and developed.

Congratulations to the author for producing another excellent and accomplished novel.

Other books by Graham Donnelly

Related Books