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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read and a beautiful love story
I'd never read any of Maggie O'farrell's books before, although my friends had been telling me to for ages. But I loved this so much I went straight out to buy her others. This is a really copmlex, involving read that you won't be able to put down. It centres on two relationships: the emerging love story between Stella, a scottish-italian girl, and Jake, a British Hong...
Published on 11 Mar 2004 by Mona

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall disappointing- 2.5 stars
Like most other reviewers, I loved Maggie O'Farrell's first novel, After You'd Gone. However, reading this one felt - sad to say - like wading through treacle. For me, the characters and the plot just didn't ring true.

Stella's 'stuckness' in relation to the events of her early life felt unconvincing, as did the details of Nina's illness and their mother's poor...
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by Belford


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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read and a beautiful love story, 11 Mar 2004
By 
I'd never read any of Maggie O'farrell's books before, although my friends had been telling me to for ages. But I loved this so much I went straight out to buy her others. This is a really copmlex, involving read that you won't be able to put down. It centres on two relationships: the emerging love story between Stella, a scottish-italian girl, and Jake, a British Hong Kong man, and the weirdly close relationship between Stella and her crazy and infuriating sister Nina. There are lots of other smaller parts in the book (which sounds like I'm talking about a film and reading this books is a bit like watching a film - it's so vivid and she cuts between scenes like a movie director) and every one of these people are as real, believable and visible as the main characters. She writes in what seems like a complicated way at first - lots of different people, and moving back and forward in time - but after a while you get completely used to it. It's a great read, a beautiful love story and anyone who has sisters will recognise lots of the emotions/frustrations from here!
Highly, highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why, oh why, go soft on us now?, 20 July 2005
I'm a fan of Maggie O'Farrell's and was really looking forward to reading this. O'Farrell has always been about love, but love with a twist of melancholy. In this book, classic romance creeps in a big way and ... for me, part the thrill has gone [soft] for it.
The characters in "The distance between us" are not as involving and her writing is a lot less dark, losing some of its bite in the process.
In summary, this book is still a pretty good read, but it doesn't pack the same punch as some of her previous work (e.g. this is nowhere near as hard hitting as "After You'd Gone).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall disappointing- 2.5 stars, 18 Mar 2009
Like most other reviewers, I loved Maggie O'Farrell's first novel, After You'd Gone. However, reading this one felt - sad to say - like wading through treacle. For me, the characters and the plot just didn't ring true.

Stella's 'stuckness' in relation to the events of her early life felt unconvincing, as did the details of Nina's illness and their mother's poor awareness of the difficulties the sisters experienced at school. Also, the strength of Jake's undying love after barely getting to know Stella (remember, Stella is someone who plays her cards close to her chest, and Jake is someone who has experienced recent difficulties with intimate relationships) was psychologically unconvincing. And as for the ending....

O'Farrell has clearly put a lot of effort into building her characters, but she hasn't, for me, achieved a great deal of psychological realism in this novel. Stella, Nina and Jake simply never felt real.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to previous form, 4 Mar 2004
By A Customer
I loved Maggie O Farrell's first book and eagarly awaited her second, which in my opinion sorely disappoints! - did not enjoy it all it, in fact didn't even finish it....
However was willing to give her a second chance and bought her new hardback , which i can say is equally as good if not better than her first book. I am reading it soooo slowly because I don't want it to end !- characters are utterly believable - the relationship between Stella and her sister Nina is fascinating and the storyline keeps you hooked long into the night - Jake's character is also compelling and his quest to find some link with his father - all in all, an excellent read - trust me, you won't be disappointed if you enjoyed her first book, - this is on a similar level.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 17 Nov 2009
This is the third novel I have read by Maggie O'Farrell and I find her novels easy reading but nothing spectacular. I enjoyed this more than `My Lover's Lover' and about the same as `After You'd Gone.' `The Distance Between Us' is a love story full of complex relationships and lots of pain.

At the start of the novel the protagonists Stella Gilmore and Jake Kildoune do not even know of the existence of the other. Of course it is obvious to the reader that they will meet eventually. First we are told the two linking stories separately as Stella and Jake move geographically closer together as they desperately try to find themselves and each other amidst the confusion of their complicated lives. Stella finds her London life disturbing her so much that she runs away to Scotland, to somewhere only her sister Nina, to whom she is really close, will understand the significance of. Meanwhile Jake suffers a terrifying experience in Hong Kong which results in him finding himself married and in the UK with an invalid wife that he doesn't love! He runs away in search of the father he never knew, yes in you guessed Scotland. I thought the title was a clever use of words as to me it sums up the void in the intense relationship between Jake and Stella, there was so much they had to discover about each other.

In general if you enjoy a novel with a large cast of characters and can cope with the style of jumping around in time and place then this is worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back on track, 29 July 2005
By A Customer
After a spellbinding first novel, and a so-so second, Maggie O'Farrell is back on course with this intriguing novel. You are drawn at first into the characters of Jake and Stella and their gradual loosening of life's ties, and then the theme of sisterhood gradually takes prominence - the descriptions of Stella's relationship with her sister is where the writer's skills really lie. I found Stella's character slightly annoying - and there was a slightly Mills & Boon-ish quality to the story - but what remains for me is a story beautifully told. Maggie O'Farrell has a gift for describing memories of childhood, those wierd details one remembers about relatives etc - and the blurring of senses, remembering smells, sights, music etc. A beautifully written, lyrical novel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost its way at the end but overall, a good read, 20 Sep 2005
By A Customer
When I started reading this novel, I was mesmerised by the main characters, who are utterly convincing and realistic, and very impressed by the amount of careful research that the author has obviously put into her work (the novel introduces scenes and characters from Italy, Wales, London, Scotland and Hong Kong, as well as Italian, Chinese and Welsh phrases). However, I lost interest towards the end - the "dizzying twist" which the Daily Mail speaks of never happened for me; on the contrary, the ending was highly predictable. I found myself speed-reading the last twenty pages because I knew what was going to take place. I also don't understand why the character of Mair was so finely-drawn, only to disappear without trace - I was hoping that she might re-emerge towards the end, elderly and contrite, to tie up the Caroline/family issue.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant study of sisterhood, distance and emigration, 27 Feb 2005
By 
Zoe R (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This was the first O'Farrel book I read - I've since got hold of the others. It's described on the back as a love story but relaly it's much much more. I would say it's main theme was the relationship between sisters. And what a relationship the two sister main characters have: Complex, overly close, secretive. Stella and Nina are beautifully drawn and completely believable. The love story itself, which doesn't really start until halfway through, is great as well. But, for me, this book is a study in sisters, the past's influence on the present, emigration, the feeling of not-belonging and the urge to run away. I love this book. It draws you further and further in with every line. It moves about, both geographically and in time, so keeps you absorbed with every word.
Great. When is her next book out?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read, 23 Feb 2005
By A Customer
I was suprised how much I liked this book, it not being the kind of thing I normally pick up, i'm not big on lady romance, but I like O'Farrell's writing i'd read elswhere and was intrigued by the outline. I was so pleased I'd chosen it, as I really really liked it. The characters were interesting and well-drawn, the settings breathed with real life - it made me desperate to go to Scotland! - and the story was compelling. What could have been a bog-standard romance was rendered complex and involving. Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Baffling - was I missing some pages?, 24 May 2011
By 
A. Clements (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I just finished this book and ended up wondering whether I was missing some pages, there were so many loose ends left untied. For example:
- Caroline's family and the hidden jewellery;
- The little boy (bully) who died. What was the fall-out from that? What did they say? What had Stella gone back there to achieve?
- Jake's father. What happened to him?

I felt strangely dissatisfied, having invested in those storylines but then left not knowing. I'd rather they hadn't been there at all to tease me. Did the editor strip out some storylines that were previously there in order to make the book shorter or something?

As for the disjointed way that the narrative was told (switching both between storylines, and timelines, with no apparent logic whatsoever) I commend my brain for being able to keep up with them, but it was a very frustrating way to read a story. Certainly not a clever device (and I can only assume that is what the author intended it to be). Frankly I just felt as though the author had written her narrative, thrown all the pages up in the air, and the book got published in the order in which she collected them together again.

Such a shame, because I was quite gripped by the story - I just felt so disappointed to be left hanging at the end.
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The Distance Between Us by Maggie O'Farrell
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