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on 4 March 2017
good story
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on 23 May 2017
fine
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on 23 January 2011
A big disappointment from this author; I was pleased to get to the end of the book. It is with regret that I find that Rosie Thomas has resorted to the genre of chick-lit - I used to credit her with appealing to a more enlightened audience. None of the characters developed in any interesting depth and the story line was utterly predictable. Real life is just not the way it is described in this book. I shall certainly think twice before purchasing another new title from RT.
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on 22 February 2013
I'm 60+, lived through the days of free love and Afghan coats, so was delighted by this book in which a group of lifetime friends decide to join together to make their homes in the grounds of the big house belonging to one of them. Descriptions of their past paint vivid pictures of my own, and the story, as it unfolds, is intriguing with lots of unexpected twists in the relationships between the original six people plus the others that come into their lives.
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on 23 December 2011
It pains me to say it because I have really enjoyed some of Rosie Thomas' books, but a few of hers I've picked up recently have been real duds (`Sunrise' and `Celebration' being prime examples) and this is another one I'll be adding to that list. I finished it because I believed it would get better, but unfortunately it just didn't. I don't feel like I wasted time though- it just reaffirms that I am going to have to be more selective about which RT books I will pick up in future.

The book revolves around widower Miranda, who after her husbands death remembers something she'd said at university years earlier; that when she and her friends all get old she wants them to live together. With an empty crumbling manor house now at her disposal, it seems the perfect time to act on her words. As she and her five friends settle into their new existence they realise that perhaps it won't be as idyllic as they envisaged...

The underlying impression I got from this book was a bit of a morbid one and that the characters had basically agreed to all buy their respective bits of the house at Mead to get old, stagnate and eventually die there after trying to get back a bit of their youth by reuniting with friends. It felt like it was basically going to become a posh old people's home. But seriously, this just doesn't happen in the real world, does it? Friends all agreeing to live together in a crumbling country house. I struggled to find any depth of realism in this book as well as identify with any of the characters. I just didn't care what happened to any of them, sadly. I also found it really jarring that it switched from Miranda's first person narrative to third person narrative- I would have preferred the story to be recounted in either one voice or the other, but not both. The language was just too flowery. I really can't recall any people who I know who talk in that way.

Also: talk about too many similes! I seriously cannot remember another book where so many have been thrown at the reader and it grew completely ludicrous and utterly distracting. I felt like going through the book and highlighting them with a fluorescent pen. Two and a bit pages in and we already had a relationship being compared to `like a small boat driven in a gale onto the Chilean shore' and my personal favourite: teenagers staring out from a bus shelter `like ruminants from a pen at a zoo.' It just didn't feel necessary at all and like Thomas had just thrown them in there to increase the word count. It added absolutely nothing to the story.

Generally, I wouldn't recommend this book if you are a first time Thomas reader, actually I wouldn't recommend it at all! Try the utterly beautiful `The Kashmir Shawl' or her brilliant `Iris and Ruby' or `Constance' instead if you do want to give a Thomas book a go. They're much better written with really memorable characters and plot-lines. This was just incredibly dull.
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on 26 February 2012
This novel describes a group of people who have been friends since student days, who are now approaching old age with trepidation. The story is told mainly in the third person, but occasionally transfers to the first person when dealing with the thoughts and feelings of one of the characters, Miranda, a former actress. Miranda is a widow, who has inherited a large country home from her much-older husband. She is childless, and rather than face old-age alone, she has invited her friends - two married couples - to buy parts of her property, and to come and live with her. These two couples have plausible reasons to accept, due to events in their own lives, though another friend, a gay man, decides to become purely a frequent visitor.

The story revolves around these people, their families, and various local characters, showing how relationships have a way of going awry, and cannot be planned. However, the feelgood element is that love and friendship win out in the end.

The writer is clearly a talented observer of human beings and human nature, and the characters largely rang true. It is good to read a novel about an aging group of babyboomers who are being forced to confront their own mortality, having started out as hip young things, who had thought they would be masters of their own destinies. However, for me, the book was far too long, and I became bored. In addition, I was able to forecast some elements of the plot, and it was all a bit too neat and homely for me.
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on 31 January 2011
The concept for this story - friends reunited in later life after varied experiences - appealed to me, but unfortunately the story failed to satisfy. A huge cast of characters meant I found it hard to care deeply about any of them and the narration often skipped away from the storyline I wanted to follow.

There is some lovely descriptive writing, and emotional insight. But ultimately the ranging narration and lack of any real dramatic tension or in depth exploration of the conflicts left me disappointed. There is some first person narrative from Miranda, but as her voice is similar to that of the rest of the narration which gets into everyone else's thoughts, I wasn't sure why it was included. There were other characters I'd have preferred to spend more time with.
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on 14 February 2011
i actually found this book quite annoying. i finished it only because i was hoping it would get better. the characterizations were really stereotypical and the men ,particularly selwyn, unbelievably unappealing. having enjoyed, white, the potters house and iris and ruby so much,i expected something better
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on 1 February 2011
It is hard to believe that this book is written by the same woman who created the brilliant "White" and "Sun at Midnight". The characters were shallow, the setting stereotyped, the 'plot' predictable. And I so agree with an earlier reviewer - HOW could she not know that a dog does not sweat through its coat?? This author has been so very meticulous in her research for previous novels, but I felt badly let down by this one.
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on 6 January 2013
I really enjoyed this book and cannot understand the negative comments of some reviewers. The storyline is multi-stranded and kept my interest right to the end. I am the same age as the main characters in the book and identified with some of their experiences and emotions. The writing was excellent and I found myself reading passages out loud to my husband. Polly's anxiety when travelling alone on the Tube in London was so well expressed, it brought a lump to my throat.
If you are not yet in your sixties, this book might not appeal so much, but I loved it! How refreshing to be able to identify with the characters instead of being the age of their parents. Chick-lit it is not!
Please continue writing Rosie, I love your books.
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