"Set against the backdrop of contemporary East-End London, Boxer Handsome is a hymn to tribal boxing history and to an angry and austere Britain, a community up against itself, 'all fighting a corner; all fighting for space. All up for a fight.'
For Bobby, the ring is everywhere and he can't afford to lose."
Bobby and Connor have grown up together in a boxing club. Their friendship is tested when they are pitted together in a local competition and a local girl Theresa comes between them. The fight then spills outside of the ring and involves their wider families and community.
Beautifully interwoven into this macho, aggressive theme is Bobby's blossoming relationship with Chloe and the disintegration of his alcoholic father, a former boxer himself.
Initially I thought that this book was far removed from the types of books that I usually read - psychological thrillers or romantic novels but it actually becomes a modern day love story, not entirely romantic, but powerfully lyrical.
This quickly became a book that I didn't want to put down. I loved how the initial setting of a boxing match became almost unimportant as the story developed and it became more a story of love, pride and regret. The writing reminded me of a Martina Cole novel - sometimes shocking in it's language and aggression but uplifting in the darkest of circumstance.
I've already passed this book onto someone else to read and I'm sure they will enjoy it as much as I did.
Boxer Handsome is the debut novel of Anna Whitwham and published by Chatto & Windus, priced at £12.99