Frank Montgomery is in T. S. Eliot's 'middle way', Principal of an art college, coping with an aging father and a mother in law on the dark descent into Alzheimer's. His marriage is strong, his relationships supportive - but in one way Frank is extraordinary- he is being talked of as a major figure in British art, a figurative painter of national reputation with commissions beckoning right up to royalty. As he struggles to live the good life and to create, he is much concerned by issues in both work and life- is it better to do new things, or old things perfectly? In this novel, Frank's values are put to the test. Once again Stanley Middleton dissects middle England with his sharp but healing scalpel, and in the process he explores family life, generational change, and the true nature of art through the complexities, pains and joys of its creation.
Stanley Middleton was joint winner of the Booker Prize with his novel Holiday. He lives in Nottingham, where most of his novels are set. Sterner Stuff is his forty-second book.