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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but a little dated
I have enjoyed reading this trilogy (having previously not known that the most famous of the three novels, "The L-Shaped Room" in fact had two sequels). This last novel is a satisfying culmination to the challenges Jane Graham has faced in bringing up her son alone whilst grappling with her feelings for the lover she first met in the L-Shaped room. It is also...
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the conclusion to Jane's story
Years have passed since the departure of Dottie and David is now a teenager. Jane still works in the shop that she started with Dottie and it is now a big success. But the peace that Jane craves still eludes her. Although she is in a relationship, the ghost of her relationship with Toby still haunts her so when she finds out that Toby's marriage is in trouble and that...
Published on 13 Mar 2003


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the conclusion to Jane's story, 13 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Two is Lonely (Hardcover)
Years have passed since the departure of Dottie and David is now a teenager. Jane still works in the shop that she started with Dottie and it is now a big success. But the peace that Jane craves still eludes her. Although she is in a relationship, the ghost of her relationship with Toby still haunts her so when she finds out that Toby's marriage is in trouble and that he is planning to go to go on a spiritual voyage to the trouble stricken Israel, she agrees to follow him in order to try and bring him and his daughter home for the sake of his mother-in-law, with whom Jane is friends. Her old friend from the L Shaped room dayus, John, agrees to go with her and so together they set out on a journey that is to change their lives forever.
This book is more satisfying than The Backward Shadow, and is more optimistic in tone. It is nice to see John makes a decent return, but his character is developed more fully, sometimes in such a way that is hard to believe. Certainly the John from The L Shaped Room wouold never behave the way that he does in this book.
All in all an enjoyable book which ties up the loose ends of Jane's story in an interesting and intriguing way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finally Moving On, 30 Jun 2014
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Two is Lonely (Paperback)
This novel is the third and final part of Lynne Reid Banks's 'L-Shaped Room' trilogy, dealing with the life of Jane Graham, single mother and former occupant of the L-Shaped Room. Jane is now 36, and her son David is eight. They still live in the Surrey village where they moved in 'The Backward Shadow', and Jane is now running the shop that she set up with Dottie in that novel, in partnership with her friend Jo (stepmother of Henry, one of the main characters in The Backward Shadow - he and his father died within two years of each other). The business is doing well, but Jane is worried about her son David, who is prone to fears and nightmares, and has become obsessed with finding out about his father. Should she be providing David with a permanent father figure? Enter Felix Andrews (always known as 'Andy - why Banks didn't just give him the Christian name Andrew and have done with it I don't know), a successful architect and widower, who immediately falls in love with Jane. He is decent, reliable, wealthy, kind and clever - might he be the partner Jane has been looking for? But Jane is uncertain that she's ever quite got over Toby, her lover from the days of the L-Shaped Room, who abandoned her to marry a 17-year-old. When Jane learns that Toby is now divorced and living on a kibbutz in Israel with his older daughter, she decides to go and find him, and exorcize the ghosts of the past for good. Accompanied by her musician friend John (also from the L-Shaped Room days) she sets off, planning to stop en route in Greece to track down Andy's hippy son Chris and bring him home. Both meetings, and their consequences, will surprise Jane in ways she's never imagined.

This is a much more satisfying novel than 'The Backward Shadow', with a larger cast of characters, a more interesting series of settings, and a better plot - it's also great to have a novel in which John the jazz musician returns as a main character. I felt that the way that Banks resolved Jane's dilemma was realistic and rather moving, and found her description of what happened to John interesting (though I wasn't entirely sure how believable John's final decision was, bearing in mind his character). All in all, there was a lot to enjoy. However, I didn't find the book without its problems (hence the three stars), most of which for me were to do with the heroine. Jane was never a straightforwardly attractive character, even in her most innocent L-Shaped Room days, and by 'The Backward Shadow' her obsessive self-focus, and seeming lack of interest in much outside her daily concerns, irritated me, as did her very circular thoughts (and her rather patronizing attitude to John - I don't think Banks could get away with all Jane's comments on him these days!). By 'Two is Lonely' she seems to have got even more self-obsessed (not unexpected if one is in her situation, I guess, but still, it's quite extreme) and narrow in her vision. We get countless monologues in which she tells herself over and over again how much she dislikes David's father, how she's not sure if she ought to go to bed with Andy or not (when she does, the prose is rather overripe, particularly Jane's description of herself as like a ripe mango!), whether she still cares for Toby and what she should do about David, which take up about the first 120 pages of the book. She appears to have few interests outside the shop and day to day life (never do we see her reading for fun, or reading to David, playing with him or taking him for walks, or really enjoying doing anything other than going out to dinner and being with her men friends) and her self-confessed philistinism about anything outside theatre is pretentious and irritating (she's a fool to turn down a trip to Glyndebourne!). The amount of time spent on Jane's repetitive brooding means that the two journeys in the book feel rushed - the encounter with Chris (a good way of tucking in references to hippy life in the 1960s) is over within a few pages, and the kibbutz encounter seems to only take a night and a day - and there's little attempt to bring the atmosphere of the kibbutz or the people there to life (Banks may have felt she'd 'done' Kibbutz life in her second and third novels, 'An End to Running' and 'Children at the Gate'. This is a pity, as these sections could have been the most interesting. Andy's courtship of Jane also feels rushed in its early stages, and then maddeningly leisurely as they decide to get together. The big surprise towards the end felt tacked on and slightly unrealistic, particularly bearing in mind David's nature and the fact that his friend Amanda was still so young. And the final three pages contained one more surprise, involving a character who I felt should have played a larger part in the book and seemed to tie up too many loose ends too quickly.

I was glad to read the book, and felt that all in all it formed a good conclusion to the trilogy, but I must say I'm now quite glad to be out of Jane Graham's company. A reasonable read - but if you're interested in the Jewish side of the story, make sure you also read 'An End to Running' or 'Children at the Gate'.

Three and a half stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but a little dated, 21 April 2014
This review is from: Two Is Lonely (Paperback)
I have enjoyed reading this trilogy (having previously not known that the most famous of the three novels, "The L-Shaped Room" in fact had two sequels). This last novel is a satisfying culmination to the challenges Jane Graham has faced in bringing up her son alone whilst grappling with her feelings for the lover she first met in the L-Shaped room. It is also pacier than the second of the trilogy ("The Backward Shadow") with Jane now at the point where she actually leaves the country, having hunkered down in the countryside for so long. It is startlingly modern in parts, especially descriptions of sex and Jane's sexual feelings and desire for independence. However, it is also sometimes shockingly dated, for instance, in attitudes to race, homosexuality and illegitimacy. Therefore although Jane is supposed to be modern and liberal, which no doubt she was in her time, she does not always come across as particularly likeable and some of her views can leave one feeling slightly uneasy, for instance, her absolute determination to prevent her son from having anything to do with her biological father, who although possibly ineffectual, is seemingly relatively harmless, and the novel's attempts to portray him as irredeemably flawed do not quite come off. Similarly the characterisation of John is quite patronising, not to say downright racist and homophobic at times. Despite this, and keeping in mind that this novel, like the others in the trilogy, are very much of their time, it is highly engaging and hard to put down, as well as beautifully written.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a present., 3 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Two Is Lonely (Paperback)
My wife was pleased to get it as she likes the writer. I haven't read it but I'm pleased she's pleased.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Continuing from where The L Shaped Room left off..., 6 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Two is Lonely (Hardcover)
Jane has now given birth to her son David and has left the little l shaped room that she loves so much behind her for good. Still aware of the stigma attached to her illegitimate son she chooses to live isolated in the cottage in the country that her aunt Addy bequethed to her. Once again she becomes attached to her surroundings, taking comfort from nature. She believes that her isolation is for the best. But people will not leave her alone - her best friend Dottie comes to stay with her and turns her well ordered life upside down. Through her relationships with Dottie and her part-time lover Toby she begins to realise that things are never as black and white as they seem. As David grows up, Jane too begins to grow as a person and begins to see that life is for the taking.
The sequel to The L Shaped Room shows the same confidence as the first book but Jane is older, though not necessarily that much wiser. The sequel lacks the optimism of the first and the humour that is so much in evidence in The L Shaped Room is almost missing. By setting it in the country Lynn Reid Banks manages to avoid most of the issues surrounding David's illegitimacy which is a shame because that is part of what made the first book so fascinating. However, if you have read The L Shaped Room then the two sequels are a must just to discover the conclusion of Jane's story.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my second best book in the trilogy!, 14 Jun 2010
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This review is from: Two is Lonely (Paperback)
The main themes in this book seemed to be the need for companionship and sex, hippies, travel and kibutz's. I was fascinated by the hippie theme and their involvement with water. It was funny that Chris wanted to make love to Jane as well. I was glad she said, "No" to Chris firmly. I was also pleased that Jane realises in the beginning of the book that she should have made more of a play for Toby and that it's not always wiser to be independent. I've always thought humans are inter-dependent and shouldn't strive to be totally self-sufficient, but then I'm not a feminist and so don't know which is the best way to be!
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Two Is Lonely
Two Is Lonely by Lynne Reid Banks (Paperback - 4 Nov 2010)
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