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Customer reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars
The Backward Shadow
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on 29 March 2015
The L-Shaped Room had an urgency and poignancy with social comment and good characters. The main protagonist Jane remains, in this sequel, deeply flawed. Which is fine but she doesn't seem to develop. The story burbles on at a meandering pace and the casual homophobia and shocking racism - even coming from 1960's 'enlightened' individuals - is hard to take. The author doesn't inhabit the world with the same commitment as she did in the first novel. Oh and the worst cover drawing I've ever seen.
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on 13 March 2003
Jane has given birth to her son, David, and takes him to live in the country, in the house that her aunt Addy left to her.In the same way that she loves the little l shaped room, Jane grows to love the isolation of the country. Her lover Toby is still in London, trying to make a living from his writing, and she is unwilling to be a burden on him. However, with the arrival her erstwhile best friend, Dottie, she realises that she cannot cut herself off from society forever. Together they set up in business, though Jane knows that her heart is not really in it. With the news that Toby is being persued by another woman, Jane's world starts to fall apart and she must come to the decision of whether she is willing to open herself up to Toby or not.
The tone of this book is more depressing than The L Shaped Room, and some of the important themes of the first book do not seem to be dealt with adequately. For example, the main point of importance was the fact that Jane is unmarried, and that David is therefore illegitimate. In the sixties this would have been quite a serious problem in the eyes of society, in The Backward Shadow this point seems almost glossed over.
Although the book is slightly disappointing, those who enjoyed Jane's story in The L Shaped Room will enjoy finding out what happens to her.
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on 11 July 2010
This book is the second in the trilogy that began with "The L Shaped Room"
It continues the story of Jane the unmarried mother introduced to us in the first book. Dont expect a happy ending with easy solutions, Lynne Reid Banks writes well with gritty themes.
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on 13 September 2015
Nowhere near as good as The L Shaped Room, which I loved.
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on 29 December 2013
Had just read and loved 'The L shaped Room', so, keen to know what happened next, sent for this. It's ok, but has none of the resonance of the previous book, with that honesty and spirit of the times, and was a rather unsatisfying and rambling tale, which I think would've had no meaning at all if not read hot on the heels of previous book.
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on 5 April 2016
OK but not a patch on the L-Shaped room
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 June 2014
Banks's 'The L-Shaped Room' ended quite inconclusively, with Jane uncertain as to where her relationship with Toby was going, and whether she would continue to live with her father, or try her luck in the cottage left her by her eccentric great aunt Addy. This novel, Banks's fourth, continues Jane's story. She and her baby son David are living in Addy's country cottage, with Jane scraping by initially on savings and an overdraft, and later on jobs as a shop assistant and barmaid. Toby is still in London, and their relationship is limping on, with Jane uncertain how much she should commit to Toby as a single mother, and how much he should have his freedom. Jane's state of limbo is broken when her smart London friend Dottie arrives in the village, determined to leave grubby, mercenary London and set up a business in handmade pottery, crafts and furniture. She insists that Jane joins her as a partner, and even provides a backer for the business - a quiet, gentle man called Henry who's putting £5,000 into the business. Things seem to be working out fairly well - until Jane's relationship with Toby reaches crisis point and she begins to turn to the kindly Henry - who Dottie is in love with. Henry also turns out to have a secret which has a profound effect on all three of them. Soon, it looks as though Jane may lose her latest refuge - or perhaps her friend.

This book is a warning about how hard sequels are to write. For the first 50 pages or so Jane appears to behave like an idiot. She ignores her father's offers of financial help, even though she's in dire financial straits, and doesn't visit him enough even though he's clearly unwell. She refuses to see Toby even though he would like to spend more time with her and perhaps even marry her - then when he begins to find other diversions she becomes distraught. She babbles on about 'going to New York' to publicize her aunt's book, when she barely has enough money for the shopping. I was soon losing patience with her, despite her courage in just keeping going on her own with a child. Things improved somewhat with the arrival of Henry - the material about his family (particularly his young stepmother) really was interesting, as was the material about the arts and crafts shop and the need to bring back artisan crafts in an increasingly commercialized world. But I found Dottie extremely irritating - the impression I got was that she was really doing the shop to make herself feel good rather than because of a real interest in what she was doing, and her way of bullying Jane (who'd made it clear she only wanted to be an assistant) for not pulling her weight was pretty nasty. Nor did I understand the bond between her and Henry. Basically I thought Dottie utterly selfish - her attitude was epitomized for me in her remarks to Jane after Jane burnt her hands saving a neighbour's cat from a fire 'Well, you won't be much help in the shop for a bit!'. The book had some good aspects - some of the later fraught discussions between Jane and Toby were quite moving, Jane's eventual decision quite heartwarming, I was glad to meet John again - however briefly - and I enjoyed some of the Henry scenes - but for the most part I found this a rather drab and depressing novel compared to the first in the trilogy. I'm now reading the third and will be interested to see how Banks ends Jane's story.
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on 6 March 2015
A great read
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