Book Review: Queen of Cups: Part 1: by James Durose-Rayner
As with I Am Sam and itv7, Queen of Cups is a mix of the fictional word of central character Lee Janes and a factual exploration of aspects of the history of Arsenal FC. This time the focus is on the years of ex-England and Wolves player Billy Wright and his difficult period as manager at Highbury (1962-1966) and that of Terry Neil who was in the hot-seat for the Gunners from 1976 to 1983. Woven into the story of the Neil era are tales of unrest, politics and poor management as players such as Alan Ball, Liam Brady, Alan Hudson and Malcolm MacDonald came and went from the Marble Halls of N5. However, the author also looks to touch on other football topics, so that for instance the continuing problems at Blackpool FC between fans and owner has an airing.
Away from the football, Lee Janes’ businesses in the form of the itv7 channel, studios and music company continue to be successful and this story is told through chapters from the central character, longtime best friend Sooty and one of the television staff Abi. What these chapters also do is further delve into the past of Lee, his wife Emily, ex-wife Jeanette and Sooty, providing more glimpses into their backstory, giving the reader a more complete picture of what makes the central protagonists tick and its impact on their present-day life.
Indeed, the slowly more considered and reflective storytelling within Queen of Cups reveals the insecurities and vulnerabilities of the main characters that is only hinted at within I Am Sam and itv7. This allows the reader, as in the earlier parts of the trilogy, to fully engage with both the cast and plot-lines.
If Queen of Cups was a match you were watching, you would be more than happy with the opening period and the entertainment so far, but now having returned to your seat in the stands after the break, it’s time for the second-half and you just can’t wait to see how it turns out.