Top critical review
Relentless retrospection gets wearisome
1 July 2004
I haven't read Mason's first book, as most potential readers will have, so cannot offer a comparison, but I found this book heavy going. The idea of different/parallel accounts of a past event is a well-established one. I think it was first employed in "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins. It can indeed be fun to see what seemed to be categorical in a story undermined by different perspectives. But the problem in this book is its lack of forward momentum. Mason's psychologically same-ish characters (all Oxford graduates, which is a touch irritating in itself) are all hopelessly trapped in the past, or at least in the fall-out from it. This might suit the author, but as a reader I found it slowly grinding me down. It's an essentially gloomy and fatalistic way to look at things, and an odd one for a very young author to adopt (I mean, how does he know?). With interest waning, the interplay of accounts begins to seem highly contrived - which, of course, being a novel, it is.