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The Outline of Love Paperback – 26 Sep 2013
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'Gripping and atmospheric, this is a cracking read' (Sun)
Praise for Morgan McCarthy:
A pageturner (Sunday Times Style)
Dark, addictive and a stunning debut (Cosmopolitan)
An accomplished debut... McCarthy's exquisite storytelling points to a promising literary career' (Edinburgh Evening News)
A mesmerising novel about obsessive loveSee all Product description
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With each section of the novel prefaced with an excerpt from the myth of Persephone and Demeter, this coming-of-age story, although well-written and promising at the start, unfortunately failed to sustain my interest throughout the entire length of the story. There were some nice descriptions of Scotland and London, and the author's portrayal of student life and of the clubs and parties attended by Persephone and her friends, was very convincing - however I felt that too much of the story revolved around going out, getting ready to go out, getting drunk, agonising over boyfriends who misbehaved and telephone calls that weren't received, where I would have preferred there to have been more emphasis on the development of the plot and the fleshing out of the main characters. On a more positive note, the story did pick up towards the end and there were some interesting elements during the course of the book, but overall this novel was not as entertaining or as satisfying to read as I hoped, and I am genuinely sorry that I cannot be more enthusiastic about it.
I feel cheated by this book. I thought her previous novel outstanding, especially for a first one.. I don't know how far I read this one before I had to give up. It was all so hackneyed & predictable, girl goes to college in the big city, does the usual studenty things, drinking, clubbing, getting in a state over men for whom they are only one among many. The characters are as unoriginal as the lives they live. That's fine in real life but we need more in a novel.
It is repetitive, in its depiction of London for example, it depended on a few threadbare recycled images. Red buses, crazy people etc. London is like nowhere else, & living there for the first time is a milestone experience. I got little sense of that. The rather flat descriptions failed to evoke a London I recognised & I do know a few of its different milieu very well. It got me wondering if McCarthy has ever been there ( I'm sure she must have but it didn't feel like it.)
There was no dramatic tension. But we start hearing news of & excited chat about this unattainably distant idol of mysterious beauty, Leo Ford, a pop star turned writer that all the women yearn for. Oh no, I thought, surely our protagonist Persephone is not going by some extraordinary luck meet him &, gasp, become his woman. But she is & she does, though it's not what it seems, he has a 'dark' side.
This is chick lit at its worst. Though isn't chick lit usually lightened by humour? This takes itself very seriously. I had to skim most of it it was just so tedious. The notion of the student at university is a well worn one & needs to be handled with originality & possibly wit, as the best ones in the genre are.
McCarthy tries to imbue the book with originality by telling it as an updating of the myth of Persephone, each chapter bearing an epigraph quoting an episode in her adventures This account of the myth is written by Ivy Ford, Leo's sister, so it seems there must 'clever' self referencing going on here, but I failed to grasp the point. There seem to be few parallels in the lives of the 2 Persephones, anyway.
With such a poor novel this device ends up seeming pretentious & flimsy.
Oh yes. The clique to which the protagonist belongs are all pretty if otherwise uninteresting. The other lot are not.