I agree with all the praise the other reviewers have heaped upon this book, and I enjoyed the first half very much. Very well written, atmospheric, characters you like and hate - yes, a very good read until the second half, which contained gratuitous violence to animals. And then the ending! Why, Ms Hall, did you choose to end it like this when there was an obvious and uplifting alternative? Or probably many alternatives? An author of fiction has the power of life and death, after all. I read for enjoyment, not to be made miserable.
But perhaps that's just me. I hated George Orwell's 1984, too. I'd sooner smile than cry any day.
I certainly won't be reading another of Catherine Hall's novels - unless I check the ending first!