Nina Bawden, 2 February 1984
No one, certainly not a novelist like Philip Oakes, can resist the temptation to rearrange memories, impose some sort of order or pattern. In the same way that a novelist may write about his own life, disguising it as a tale about imaginary people, autobiography may be a sly form of fiction. And it follows that the success of an autobiography depends on whether or not he makes a good story of it. Philip Oakes has succeeded superbly. His trilogy, From Middle England, Dwellers All in Time and Space and At the Jazz Band Ball, is a very funny, lively and often enthralling record of a childhood, adolescence and young manhood, convincing in its detail, and set down with verve and style.