Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Satire without the Comedy, 27 Feb. 2012
This review is from: We Had It So Good (Kindle Edition)
I am never very happy being critical, but this book has received good reviews and it doesn't deserve them. This is, pace all the raves, a poor novel. I am aware that it is a cliche now to invoke the Jamesian "show, don't tell" rule, but this book would have benefitted terrifically from a little of its application. There is an occasional slice of conversation - of animation - but they tend to be slid in between great chunks of exposition and Telling. It reads like an exercise in a sociology A level, one clumping reference after another, until the reader is at last astonished that a writer could have the gall to be so bleedin' obvious. The characters (although it is flattering to describe them thus) are caricatures, but they are not funny. Worse, they are not MEANT to be funny. And yet the form and context of the whole cries out for humour, because these players are laughable, and deserve to be laughed at. What is satire without the comedy? Answers please...

I wrote the above in a fit of exasperation, waiting for the novel to start. It does, finally, around page 150, and it rises to the standard of good family drama. But what with everyone in it still representing some idea or concept or notion it remains somehwo lifeless. One cannot easily imagine Linda Grant complaining that her characters seemed to have a life of their own. They are very tightly controlled, and for those who like the schematic this will probably be an enjoyable book. I enjoyed it enough to finish it, and indeed I have recommended it to a friend, but really only as a way of getting her to learn a little about modern British history... So: i shall up to two stars.
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