I approached 'Girl From The South' expecting a warm, thought provoking tale, much as I had expected (and found) in other Joanna Trollope novels I had read. Far from inhabiting that middle ground between cosy escapism and genuine meaning, 'Girl From The South' tries too hard to capture the rootlessness and varying 'emotional ambitions' of its cast of 30-somethings, and ends up clunky and brittle. Disappointingly so, since Joanna Trollope's basic premise - that life can only really move forward when we acknowledge the past - has the potential to really strike a few nerves, had the predicament been embodied by characters rather less formulaic.
I'm not sure what Trollope is trying to do with this novel, although it looks somewhat like an attempt to break a mold of some kind. I like her critique of the South and her reappraisal of its values, the need for both stability and change; I like her engaging and often pithy style, and at times - the closing few pages, in particular - sharp sightedness into the contemporary malaise of her central characters. I am only disappointed that, for my part, it inspired little more than indifference.