The Sunshine Years, by Afsaneh Knight, hardback by Doubleday, £16.99 (ebook £9.20)

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THE theme of the hang-up of getting older and leaving your best physical years behind you has to be handled well if a writer is to make it laugh-out-loud funny, especially if the reader is in that interesting position.

Afsaneh Knight manages it fine in her second novel. It’s about a group of friends in Sydney who went through school together and still hang out and drink after work years later.

Knight explores each character’s angst about where their life is going and how each of them copes, switching from their sadness to their cheerful vulgarity in an instant.

The depiction of sunny Sydney and its inhabitants is convincing, perhaps helped by Knight having an Australian husband, but it seems that the book’s title hangs over the story with a sense of irony from early on.

Chris Gibbings