I’ve always enjoyed David Lodge’s writing, which I find both accesible and of literary merit. He simply knows about the art of writing. His latest novel, Deaf Sentence, is no different. It tells the story of an academic who has taken early retirement, at least in part, because of a degenerative loss of hearing. Lodge himself suffers from hearing impairment and is also a former academic and he writes about the condition with in-depth knowledge, immense sympathy and a dark humour that can only come about throgh direct personal experience. But this is no autobiography. The narrative is driven by two things – the main character’s condition (which, as I said, he writes about in an informed and humorous manner) and his involvement with a young woman student, who turns out to be something of a femme fatale. His involvement is, in fact, entirely innocent (in deed, at least) and yet he gets himself entangled into all kinds of deception that threaten to undo him. Yet the one disappointment of the book is that this narrative strand is never brought to a satisfying conclusion. Instead, she simply fades from view and disappears from the novel. Having said that, the book is enjoyable for the ease and quality of the writing alone.