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This review is from: What to Look for in Winter (Paperback)
I haven't read anything by Candia McWilliam since "A Case Of Knives" when it was first published, but I was attracted to this by the quality of the writing and by the title - nicked from one of my favourite childhood books, a Ladybird natural history title, and still a classic. The story Ms McWilliam tells is of interest and is mostly beautifully written. Yes, the name dropping grew very tiresome, and yes, I almost gave up halfway through; in fact I put it aside and read a comic novel for a couple of nights before picking it up again. I also took longer to read it than I have any book of this length for years. But it was quite rewarding in the end, although I didn't find it as uplifting as some have done. But my main feeling while reading it was "this woman has no idea how ordinary people live", and I ended the book convinced of that. Even her borrowed homes are the sort of which most of us can only dream; the sheer physical ease of her moneyed life never seems to occur to her. One example suffices: she describes the cost of a session with a psychotherapist (which appears to have been useless) as being equivalent to the cost of her two cats . . . . . . £700! Errrr - I don't know anyone who has spent £350 on a cat; and I certainly don't know anyone who can afford a course of therapy at £700 a throw. And I was left with the certain knowledge that all her problems (which may have stemmed from her Mother's suicide) look like self-inflicted wounds, which I think the Author would acknowledge; and I'm not sure what - other than that - I'm supposed to feel. It's well written and some of the language is exquisite. But I wouldn't read it again and I wouldn't buy it for anyone else. I suppose that, like the Curate's egg, it's very good in parts.