Top critical review
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Very different from all other Erica James' novels
on 21 January 2008
I'm a great fan of Erica James. Her novels combine romance and escapism with interesting relationships, which makes them thoughtful and more than escape. But this novel I found depressing and unconvincing. James has tried something new: combining romance with mystery and the grimmer side of family relationships.
Lydia is a sophisticated, sensitive Englishwoman in her 40s living in Venice. She trips and injures her foot when she sees the very image of her long lost lover. The body of the book goes back in time and traces how she met and lost this lover, starting back when she was about to turn 9. The bulk of the book is about her strange and grim childhood with abusive relatives, odd church people, and nasty classmates -- altogether making for a dark childhood. Not only do I not need to read about such dreadful, unredeemable people, but I couldn't see how someone with her background could turn out the way she did. The mystery part is fairly interesting, but somehow the book was unbalanced. I read it to the end, but found myself skipping parts. This is the only James novel that I will not keep to read a second time. I will still buy her next book, however.