Top critical review
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Three and a half stars
on 8 March 2012
This novel tells the stories of three generations of women in the same family, and spans the period between the second world war and the end of the last century. There is Iris, who leaves her young daughter,Ruth, to be with her lover in Cairo. Ruth, in her turn, has two daughters, Isobel and Emily, and we see them through to adulthood and their own loves and losses.
These are the bare bones of the novel. The writing is smooth and effortless, and some of the descriptive writing is wonderful. The characters, too, really come to life, and are very sympathetically drawn. But I do have a couple of reservations. Firstly, the storyline does move about, between characters and also in time, and I found this sometimes interrupted the flow. Also, nothing much seems to happen, so there is little tension in the novel. The characters live out their lives, and there are the usual ups and downs, but nothing to make the story particularly compelling. I fact, I felt when I'd finished it that the novel could have ended at almost any point. Writing this review several days later, I am having difficulty in remembering exactly what did happen without referring back to the book itself. So while this was a worthwhile read, I don't think I could necessarily recommend it, hence only three stars.