Little, Brown £16.99stg
Successful Crown Prosecutor Sally Donne appears content and happy in her work despite worrying that her children love their nanny more than her. But when the man she is prosecuting for rape commits suicide after her harsh cross-examination she begins to doubt herself. When she herself becomes a victim of rape, Sally begins to question her entire life. Her marriage is unhappy and she is rarely home to put her children to bed. She begins to resent her routine and starts to long for freedom.
Her colleague Jeremy Scott hates his work. He knows it's a game but he plays it anyway. Too worried about what other people think of him to break free, Scott agrees to defend the man he knows raped Sally.
Davies' story is not as glamorous as those of his US counterpart John Grisham, but it doesn't need to be. His subject is the very mundanity of peoples' lives and work. He is interested in what makes us do what we do, examining the concept of identity and what it's like to contemplate giving up your role in the world in exchange for freedom.
Davies explores the difficulties of escaping from routine, but we are never sure if Sally or Jeremy will actually do anything to change their lives. The events of the book make it seem like Sally wants to change but is she simply too frightened or constrained by convention?
'The Bird Table' is an interesting read for the questions it raises about identity and purpose, but the ending is predictable and the characters are flimsy. Not quite Britain's answer to John Grisham.