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3.6 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2006
I cannot believe the hype surrounding this book. Although the premise was initially interesting, I found the character of Alice not only extremely irritating, but also utterly unsympathetic in her total self-absorbtion, and Howard a cipher, yet whose story still took up 8 chapters to tell. And as for the character of Theresa - she's just too good to be true. If the editor had done a better job this could have been quite a hard-hitting and moving short story, but as it is, I just could not emphathise with these characters. The fact that this quite short book of just over 400 pages took me about six months to read says it all I think.
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on 7 November 2003
The Goodwins have never really felt accepted by the local Midwest community. When a child in Alice Goodwin`s care drowns, it appears to be the beginning of the drama. As the story unfolds we see how Alice`s life began unravelling some time before.
Set on farm in the summer, Hamilton`s exquisite prose uses the heat to fan the flames of the unfolding drama. Each person`s
pain is almost tangible,from the bewildered husband`s to the grieving friend`s. Its a story of isolation and self destruction. Alice Goodwin acts as her own judge and jury for the drowning death of the child and allows it to play out in public before a hostile community.
This is a great novel from start to finish. The reader is able to empathise with all the major characters and Hamilton`s skill at storytelling often leaves the reader feeling there is no way
now this can end well. The clarity and depth of the characters
are so well drawn they become people you know, people in your town or street.
Although the events of this story are dramatic is easy to become so involved one can see how life begins to unravel before you realise it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2001
From the first paragaph, this book keeps you mesmerised, both with the story line,and the dexterity with which the author steers you through the emotional minefield and compelling drama as it unfolds. Jane Hamilton tackles difficult subjects like grief, guilt, torment,the nature of love and forgiveness with ease and confidence. Her insights and the beautifully crafted prose are breathtaking. I found people to identify with at every turn and I marvelled at the perception and sheer style of her writing. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2001
This novel is utterly absorbing, as a portrait of how the world can be turned inside out for a person by the consequences of a random string of meaningless events. I won't go into the details of the plot here, but I will say that this book is beautifully written, with such clarity and vision that it makes the harrowing stuff even harder to stomach. The only duff point is that the way Theresa speaks sounds unrealistic. Can people really articulate their feelings so lucidly when under such stress? Theresa sounded suspiciously like a self-help manual for the recently bereaved, but that is my only complaint. This book made me realise how easy it is for things to go horrifically wrong for seemingly no reason, and it is not an easy read, but I would still recommend it. The ending is ambiguous enough that I put the book down hoping Alice and Howard would make it, but still not sure that they would.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2001
This is a very good book which kept me hooked until the very end; be warned though - you get so involved with the characters that you find yourself feeling quite melancholy in sympathy with them. An excellent book though which I will receommend to all my friends.
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As you read this book you find yourself fighting to stop the inevitable happening, but know that you cannot, that you have no control over the events, that there, but for the grace of god, go you. The exquisite control the author exercises allows this to happen almost imperceptibly; by keeping the narrative sparse she manages to separate the victim from all those around her, isolating her in a way that makes her seem at times unsympathetic and at others a soul to be cherished. The book will not be to everyone's taste, it paints a picture that is all too close to the truth in our society today, where in some matters people are guilty until proven innocent and even after there is innocence has been proven they carry the stigma of the accusations.
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on 12 May 2013
It took a while to get into this book, but this was partly I think because I was reading a rather battered edition which rather put me off from the start! I liked the build up to the drama that starts the story, but found Alice, the main character, quite difficult to empathise with, which made the book more hard going. The story was mainly told from her viewpoint, with the middle section from her husband, Howard's. The setting is in America, and although the farm and its surroundings were in places beautifully described, and the intense heat at the beginning well conveyed, I didn't feel very connected to the whole place itself. The book was quite long and I skimmed the last part to finish it.
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on 27 January 2012
Reading this book was a roller coaster of page turning frenzy interspaced with tedious boredom. A strong storyline, but so much padding and characters that are difficult to believe in, Alice is such a drippy bore with sort of philosophy that would leave dinner guests glaze eyed, and Terresa just doesn't exist. I have no objection to a simple storyline and padding, e.g. The The White Tiger is like that, but unlike this, it is superbly entertaining.

I got through it - I wanted to know what happens, but slowly as I had no interest in hearing about ... oh I forgot already, yes most of the padding is bad.

PS my wife liked it.
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on 19 May 2015
Could not read this. Too full of misery and self flagellation. Gave up which I rarely do.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2001
I read this book with much promise having heard rave reviews, but I can honestly say that apart from it being well-written, I wouldn't wish to read it again - my tried and tested formula for whether a book is really good. It is a harrowing story, but I found it failed to grip my attention. I couldn't relate to the characters and I struggled to finish the book. I also read the Short History of a Prince to try and prove myself wrong, but didn't like that one either.
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