A good read, though it felt like it took a long time to get going. 

Nicky Starling, 8, loves his family, even if (secretly) he doesn’t share his dad’s passion for Hawthorn Football Club.

It’s 1985, the season is just beginning, and nothing less than the premiership cup – his holy grail – will be good enough.

But Nicky’s keener on that other holy grail, the one that occupies the minds and hearts of King Arthur and his legendary nights.

Or perhaps Shakespeare will do just as well, as Nicky repurposes his own action figures and his sister’s discarded dolls to act out his own versions of these great stories.

But behind the scenes, Nicky’s family is falling apart. Secrets, lies, illicit romance, an affair and a family death all pull at the ties that have bound this family together.

Nicky’s innocent observations of what he hears and sees one by one set off detonations way beyond his understanding, affecting his parents, grandfather, sister Pippa, and his grandmother’s nurse, Rose, whom he adores.

Sydney-based Kelly, recently appointed editor of Mumbrella, has a readable style and Nicky makes for an entertaining narrator. His pastiche plays, rewriting Shakespeare and King Arthur, are often hilarious, though there are quite a lot of them, and I’m not sure they were all needed.

The story takes a while to get going, but the scene-setting Kelly does makes each of the later revelations more powerful.

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