It’s been more than a decade since the end of the “war to end all wars,” though the Cold War is raging on. The Belgians decide to bring the world together in Expo 58 or better know as the Belgian World’s Fair. The story takes us inside the British contingent as they work to design and build their exhibit. Though the Fair did occur, this work of fiction by Jonathan Coe introduces us to a “hero” who can only be described by me as underwhelming. Thomas Foley works for the British government’s Central Office of Information though he seems to be a low level lifer when he is called upon to drop everything, including his family, to oversee part of England’s display. Foley is dropped into a world he is scarce able to thrive at least at the beginning.
It seemed to me that this story happened to Thomas Foley and he really seemed to have very little control of events. His struggle to wade through the fast-past world of intrigue made for an interesting story. You’ll not be on the edge of your seat for this novel, but it was very enjoyable.
As a point of interest, my family attended the New York World’s Fair in the mid sixtys. I would have been just three years old and I remember exactly nothing about the trip. My mother says that all I did was complain about my feet hurting.