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Spoilt by inappropriate punctuation - where was the copy-editor?
on 18 February 2015
Potentially it's a beautiful, involving book, delicately written and full of atmosphere; but it was spoilt for me by my increasing irritation at the author's use - or too often misuse - of punctuation. Her trick of stringing together a whole paragraph of descriptive phrases separated only by commas can often work well, like brush-stroke after brush-stroke on a canvas, but when over-used it becomes terribly monotonous and creates a "dying fall" as there's no underlying structure - like prose read aloud badly, where every sentence ends with a downward inflection. In other places commas are superfluous or just plain wrong, jolting the reader to a halt as he/she has to decide where the connections and breaks actually lie. I assume the editorial team were not allowed to touch Susan Hill's punctuation - but what a pity! There's so much that's appealing in the book, but for anyone with an eye for good grammar the many descriptive passages are a jerky and frustrating read.