14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Almost, but not quite,
This review is from: Almost English (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When reviewing a book, it's easy to fall in to the trap of being disparaging simply on the basis of finding one or more characters disagreeable, and there are certainly characters within this book for which it is sometimes hard to extend one's sympathy; one of the two central characters (the other being her daughter Marina, struggling to survive the awkwardnesses and pains of adolescence) Laura I found particularly exasperating. Someone more lacking drive or basic emotional intelligence would hard to countenance.
Adopting that yardstick however would be misguided; on that basis "Mansfield Park" would score low since it features one of the most suprememly dislikable characters in all fiction in the person of the bumptious Mrs Norris. However, while I enjoyed the book, I found a number of significant flaws:
- The title doesn't really fit the subject matter. I never got the feeling that Marina's travails were in any way the result of her being part Hungarian - they come across more as a simple case of growing pains.
- Missed opportunity; after a promising start (a particularly grisly party), Marina's Hungarian family slide into the background of the novel where they became faint caricatures. I would like to have seen these characters developed and differentiated more.
- About 2/3 through the book, the plot is taken over by a frankly unbelievable twist of coincidence, the effects of which struck me as not nearly as momentous as the author was trying to make them out to be. There is also the slightly irritating writing habit of breaking the parallel plot lines into smaller and smaller slices of time, where the effect of trying to manufacture too many false cliffhangers becomes wearisome.