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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotional tale for our times.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an ounce of humanity in them. It is an extraordinary story of a dysfunctional family, told from each members' perspective. In particular, the youngest child's determination to discover the truth about one his siblings, who ran away from home at 16. The parents never even speak the missing child's name. To reveal any more of...
Published on 8 Jan 2001

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3.0 out of 5 stars Picking up the Pieces
A sometimes very witty, sometimes poignant story of a middle-class Hampstead family in meltdown. Roy and Helen Keaney appear to have an ideal life: a nice house in Hampstead, a good job in publishing for Roy (who is earning bigger bucks since his firm got bought up by a big corporation), an adorable twelve-year-old son called Zack, and plenty of wealthy friends. But under...
Published 16 months ago by Kate Hopkins


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotional tale for our times., 8 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Passing Go (Hardcover)
I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an ounce of humanity in them. It is an extraordinary story of a dysfunctional family, told from each members' perspective. In particular, the youngest child's determination to discover the truth about one his siblings, who ran away from home at 16. The parents never even speak the missing child's name. To reveal any more of the story would be to spoil it for the reader. Libby Purves takes us on an emotional journey, full of pathos, humour, sadness and joy - be sure to have a box of tissues handy!
Perhaps most importantly, this book may come to be regarded as a milestone in people's increasing understanding and tolerance of those who happen to be different. It probably would not have been published even a few years ago, an encouraging sign that society is moving towards a time when it will truly "celebrate diversity".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Members of a collapsing family seek to rebuild themselves, 25 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Passing Go (Paperback)
At first I didn't enjoy this one as much as Libby Purves' other novels but as always she raises issues and points with very believable characters. The desperate current of underlying sadness in the lives of all the protagonists is heartbreaking and the resolution is not particularly satisfying: which is just like life. I like Libby Purves for her refusal to neatly end her stories: always you are left wondering what happened next. True, this novel (more than the others) has striven for a hard-edged contemporary feel but the feelings expressed by all the characters are timeless and the reader can easily empathise.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Picking up the Pieces, 13 May 2013
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Passing Go (Paperback)
A sometimes very witty, sometimes poignant story of a middle-class Hampstead family in meltdown. Roy and Helen Keaney appear to have an ideal life: a nice house in Hampstead, a good job in publishing for Roy (who is earning bigger bucks since his firm got bought up by a big corporation), an adorable twelve-year-old son called Zack, and plenty of wealthy friends. But under the surface things are not well in the Keaney household. Roy and Helen's marriage is breaking down, and Helen has begun to spend compulsively to ease her depression at her life. And their three older children have all caused them sorrow. Marcus is a young 'shark', a dot-com entrepreneur making a huge amount of money, which he spends on posh clothes and drug-taking, a man who holds his father in contempt. Shona has become a 'Brit Art' star, who makes obscene sculptures and dresses in a flamboyantly grotesque way (though her secret passions are figurative art and drawing). And Danny, Shona's twin, disappeared at the age of 16 and hasn't been seen since... The family troubles finally come to a head when Marcus is appointed to a position in his father's corporation and promptly sacks Roy. Roy takes to the streets in protest, Helen realizes quite how bad their finances are and runs away to become a carer in an old people's home, and Zack is sent to family friends (like a foundling, as he puts it). But Zack is tough, and determined to bond with his big sister Shona, and find out what happened to Danny. Soon he's on his way to finding out some family secrets from Shona - secrets that will change everyone's lives. And Shona is realizing as she gets to know her brother better that the life she has been living for several years is not the one she wants.

I enjoyed this book a lot, but I have to say I found the first 100 pages totally implausible. For example, would any intelligent man like Roy let the family get so greatly into debt that they were down to the last 50 of their overdraft? And, if made redundant, wouldn't his first thoughts be with his wife and small son, rather than about how he's going to get revenge and make his company look a fool? And would any son hate his father enough to sack him for no reason - and would he be allowed to? Also, how many men, even in deep depression, would opt to make themselves homeless? I found myself finding the whole situation rather ridiculous. However, things improved no end when Purves moved onto the story of Shona and Danny, and Zack's wanting to find out about Danny. And there were some fine later scenes with the priest Father Douglas, and some fascinating material, sensitively handled, about transexuality. These later scenes were thought-provoking and well worth reading, and I thought it was brave of Purves to not have a completely 'happy end'. Ultimately, though, I felt she could have explored the relationship between Helen and Roy in much more depth - Helen remained a very shadowy character, and I couldn't believe that any normal mother would happily abandon her family to live in an old people's home, and be panting to get back there even after a crisis. And I was never sure why the marriage had broken down so much. Ultimately Purves was much stronger on the siblings, and on Roy's relationship with his twin daughter and son, than on marriage.

So - like 'More Lives than One' or 'Continental Drift', also by Purves, I found this a novel with some very moving bits and interesting characters, but with a plot that overall didn't quite hang together. Three and a half stars.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sounds good on paper but ..., 22 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Passing Go (Paperback)
I usually quite enjoy Libby Purve's writing but I thought this book was her poorest so far. (I enjoyed "More lives than one" the best). Somehow I never really felt involved in it the way I have in her previous books - the adult characters seemed so cold and self absorbed and the one child Zachary, was portrayed in a very unrealistic way. (He doesn't mind losing the stability of home and parents and his attitude to his brother Danny's big secret is - well - probably a bit idealistic - children are generally very conventional little people!)
Ms Purves also seems to be striving for a contemporary year-2000 feel - the Tracey Emin-type daughter the son who is a dot-com millionaire - but this actually makes the novel feel somewhat dated in 2001. In my opinion the novel's central emotional focus should the relationship between Roy, Helen and their children - especially Zachary - but the family quickly disintegrates and the later reconcilation between Roy and his older children is meaningless and shallow. It seems that Libby Purves was aiming at social comedy (to go by the cover of the novel) which I suppose is a critic's way of saying the novel starts out with realistic characters with an identificable lifestyle only to degenerate into a farce with more and more eccentric characters being introduced who succeed only in irritating the reader and distracting from what should be the central focus of the book.
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Passing Go
Passing Go by Libby Purves (Paperback - 1 Feb 2001)
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