Tim Pears (Bloomsbury, £14.99)

Oxford author Tim Pears has won a few prizes in his time, and his novel In A Land of Plenty was turned into a ten-part television series. So he may be a little blasé if I award him another accolade - The Oxford Times's Most Enjoyable Novel of the Year award.

I know it's only March, but I am confident that this funny, thought-provoking novel will be my favourite book of the year.

With some novels set in Oxford, the reader is left with the uneasy feeling that the author has written the whole thing on a computer from their home in the capital. Armed with a few guide books and a couple of trips on the Oxford Tube, it may be possible to satisfy the publisher, but not the discerning reader.

This problem certainly doesn't exist with this book, which gets every Oxford reference and location spot-on, throughout Ezra Pepin's tempestuous journey.

The father-of-three lives in Blenheim Orchard in North Oxford, with wife Sheena, daughter Blaise, 14, son Hector, 11, and toddler Louie, who is three.

Ezra started out as an anthropologist but for the past decade has worked for Isis Water, which is now planning to export bottled water to the Middle East. His wife runs a travel company which encourages people to stay in their home city and explore places they never knew existed.

On the face of it, the Pepins should be happy but, at 39, Ezra is hitting some sort of mid-life crisis, and so too is his wife who, out of the blue, suggests that the whole family should move to Brazil for two years. This is partly because she feels guilty about her husband working in a job that doesn't really interest him, just so they can pay the mortgage. But when Ezra suddenly gets promotion, and a pay rise to go with it, she is not at all impressed.

The narrative is mostly from Ezra's point of view, which allows Pears to introduce some topical ethical debates about global warming and eating local produce.

He even makes a subtle reference to the lengthy and successful legal fight by residents to save the Trap Grounds from development by listing it as a Town Green.

But it is Ezra's relationships with the women in his life which will keep the reader gripped and turning the pages rapidly towards an unsettling conclusion.

There are parts of Oxford which don't get a mention in Blenheim Orchard, because it is primarily about a family who live in a five-bedroom house on an estate like the Waterways. Pears does acknowledge Oxford's multi-ethnic make-up, but focuses on the middle classes in the privileged quarters of Jericho and North Oxford that Ezra and Sheena inhabit.

Ezra Pepin has everything going for him and to begin with, he is given every chance to succeed. Watching his life unravel was shocking and entertaining and left me hoping for a sequel - or, at the very least a lavish BBC dramatisation.

The author is at the Oxford Literary Festival on Thursday. Andrew Ffrench