Top positive review
Good Solid Novel, Much More Than the Cover Suggests
on 7 December 2017
An interesting novel, with well depicted, convincing characters. The situation, though hardly original, is treated in a compelling way, & the unusual setting of Finland at the beginning of the last century, gives it an extra dimension of originality. The domestic story of a recently widowed, middle-aged provincial doctor who becomes obsessed with the orphan girl he's hired as maid-of-all-work, is not as dodgy as it sounds: it's melancholy & haunting, with echoes of Chekhov & late Tolstoy. Add to this the small-town small a mindedness of his family & neighbours, and the second storyline involving the political unrest that beset Finland just over a century ago, & you have a truly satisfying novel, & one in which I didn't spot a single anachronism. I may be wrong, but I suspect Helen Dunmore had a sequel in mind, as the ending is disappointingly up in the air. Sadly, we will never know.