One thing that fascinates me in literary fiction is how blatantly a good writer can break all the broadly accepted rules of storytelling and get away with it. Writers are often told not to overwhelm readers with too many characters too quickly, nor to make it too difficult to figure out who’s who and what’s going on. But in the first pages of Close to Hugh, we are bombarded with a large cast of characters, all of them connected in some way to the main character, middle-aged gallery owner Hugh. It took me several chapters to figure out who was who and how they were all connected, but the book rewarded the effort it took to get to know the characters with a rich and vividly realized tale of two generations of friends and family intertwined in the crises of midlife and the crises of youth. It’s a gentle, quiet book, often funny, full of wordplay (mostly puns on Hugh/you, with all the meditations on identity you’d expect to go along with that). I’ve enjoyed all Marina Endicott’s books, though I think Good to a Fault will always be my favourite. Close to Hugh is book that rewards the attentive reader by introducing us to a varied cast of intriguing characters.