Francine would prefer to be thinner, but is happy enough to suffer her boss' manhandling of her ample hips if it helps her survive the next cull in Quality Assurance. She just wishes she could get the dead biker's crushed face out of her mind's eye.
Robin is having a baby with the wrong woman, wishes he were with the perfect Polish waitress instead, leans hard on Deleuze for understanding, and wonders if his work in film will continue to be valued by the university management.
Olivia is angry - angry with her layabout mother, with her too-casual BFF, and with her own timidity and anxiety. Perhaps the wisest of her lecturers will help? Knowledge is power, right? And she's beautiful when she's angry.
Ed wishes he'd never gone back to Guyana to help his rass brother as it lost him his mini-Marilyn wife and the possibility of watching his only child grow up - until someone surprising crops up at the crematorium.
Katrin is starting not to miss Gdansk or Mamunia so much, and starting to understand London living. But if she works and hopes harder, maybe she'll secure a full British future for herself and her mother with the Good Englishman.
The five of them cross paths and cross swords to bring London living unforgettably to life. Real London lives.
Welcome to my spot on the Blog Tour for Higher Ed by Tessa McWatt, published in paperback by Scribe UK on 27 August 2015.
For a chance to win a copy of the book, follow #highered on the Scribe Twitter account @ScribeUKbooks
Higher Ed is set in a London university and each character is a true individual, although their lives are linked. Some of the links are fleeting, but others are stronger and more attached. The author is really skilled in creating characters, each one of them is solid and credible, with their own original voice and foibles.
Whilst I enjoyed reading about all of these characters, and their lives, my favourite was Katrin. She's highly educated yet can make a better life for herself working in a London coffee shop than she ever could back home in Poland.
The characters in Higher Ed are all looking for the same thing. They each deal with their issues in their own way, but their aim in life is what connects them. That, and London of course.
Higher Ed is almost like sitting on a bus or train, or indeed, in Katrin's coffee shop and people-watching. It's a quick read, but a really fulfilling one. Tessa McWatt's writing is colourful, funny and vivid. Her setting is perfect and her characters are wonderful.
TESSA McWATT was born in Guyana, grew up in Canada, and has been living and working in London for nearly two decades.
She is the author of five earlier novels; her second, Dragons Cry, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the City of Toronto Book Awards.
Her most recent novel, Vital Signs, was nominated for the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.
She developed and leads the MA in Writing: Imaginative Practice at the University of East London