I wrote this review ages ago... but for some reason it got deleted off the system. Am trying again...
It's not often I feel compelled to write a review, but TENDERNESS OF WOLVES (TOW) roused me sufficiently to submit one.
Having read the other reviews on Amazon (as well as in the press) I don't know if I'm missing some subtle point but I thought the book was dire. I really wanted to like it, but it just didn't work for me. Too many characters (most of whom I didn't care in the slightest about); too many sub-plots (several of which lead nowhere); too many red herrings (that lead to a lack of focus - the bone tablet, for instance, is pursued throughout only to be literally lost at the end); too many point of view shifts (in places the POV was like trying to hold a fish with well-oiled hands; and utterly confusing).
The consequence of all this is that I felt the pace was ponderous. Normally I read every day, but with TOW I found I could put it down on a Monday and forget about it till the end of the week. I also felt it was completely emotionally unengaging - always a fatal flaw. I just didn't care what happened to the characters.
I will admit it is well written and researched - but even these positives have a self-conscious quality to them which I found distracting. The writing is too obviously clever in my opinion.
Although personally glad that Stef Penney won the Costa (how could you not be for a debut novelist?), I am astounded that her book beat William Boyd's Restless
- a much more satisfying novel. Maybe it's just down to personal preferences.
So sorry, but I just didn't like this at all...