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Drowning Rose
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on 6 September 2011
This poignant subtle story is told chiefly from the points of view of two women recalling an incident in their girlhood from which neither of them ever recovered. The drowning of their schoolmate Rose has shaped both lives - but the cleverness of this book is that you don't know really where you are with them until quite far in, when the hint of a huge twist keeps you turning the pages at speed.
Eliza's job as a ceramic restorer serves as a beautiful metaphor for the fragility of life, and the impossibility of perfect recovery: everything, once broken, remains damaged within, no matter how carefully the flaw is hidden. The story is deftly told, with convincing dialogue, and Eliza's relationship with the dead girl's father is drawn with great subtlety and compassion. This is a great read - especially for someone who has felt regret about the past, and opportunities missed. Rose's father says at one point to the guilt-racked Eliza, "be a candle, not a black hole."
This book is a candle, and I feel the better for having read it.
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As soon as I finished the first novel I'd read by Marika Cobbold, Drowning Rose, I downloaded this book. I loved this first read so much I couldn't wait to devour more of Mirika Cobbold's wonderful prose.

I love the cover and the title of this book - Purveyor of Enchantment - just wonderful. So I sat down expecting a pure enjoyment experience....... and thought what's going on here. It's started ok but I just wasn't sure where it was going, but continued on not really taking to the story immediately.

However, around the fourth chapter it gained momentum and all the wit, humour, and beautifully descriptive writing all came flooding back keeping me completely hooked and chuckling through this novel, finishing it in a couple of days.

It's a beautiful love story and I took to Clementine early on. She's big and clumsy, neurotic, a gentle generous soul, put upon, particularly by her half sister Orphelia, 'the whole child' and oooh such a meanie and selfish character. I didn't like her from the beginning but boy oh boy by the end of the book!

Clementine, privileged, with an inheritance from her late father inherits her aunt Elvira's house in an enchanting village and takes Orphelia in as her house mate (very foolish decision in my humble opinion, but of course helps the storyline!). With a lovely 'old boy' for a neighbour Mr. Scott. She befriends him and falls completely in love with his son Nathaniel who in turn falls in love with her.

Twists and turns begin, where I felt poor Clementine was badly let down by two special people in her life but she pulls through it with an imaginative set programme of events she puts in place to turn her life around.

I loved it and recommend it, nearly as highly as Drowning Rose. This won't be the last Marika Cobbold book I read.
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on 29 October 2011
Drowning Rose I first read Marika Cobbold a while back when a publisher recommended her to me. I had yet to care for someone with dementia. When I had come through that life experience, `Guppies for Tea' became all the more poignant for me. Simply, Marika Cobbold writes real people, beautifully, and always balanced with just the right amount of humour. People you can identify with and recognise your own strengths and weaknesses through. I always feel as if I'm settling down with a huge box of chocolates when I pick up one of MC's books. But unlike Forrest Gump's Momma, I do know what I'm going to get: a hugely satisfying read. I wasn't disappointed when I read Drowning Rose - in one sitting. I was delighted by the switch of point of view from (present) forty-one year old Eliza, to Eliza at sixteen, the story narrated then by new girl to the school, Sandra/Cassandra, who is desperate to be seen as one of the inner circle of a group of more-privileged peers. A rather unique twist in the telling, then, and not easy to do, but Marika Cobbold pulled it off without a hitch. I'd rather not throw in spoilers - the book has to be read, so I'll just say that the story looks at the cracks beneath the veneer (Eliza's job as a ceramic restorer being a perfect metaphor). It examines how a traumatic event can shape one's future, the tragedy, which is the drowning of Rose, rippling out to touch and transform the lives of all those who loved and lost her. It looks at guilt, at grief, the burdens we carry and the impact on future relationships. It looks at `what ifs' and whys. I loved it, truly. Anyone aspiring to write should read it. Anyone who loves reading - you are in for a real treat!
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Oh I loved this book. I bought it early in January during the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' sale primarily for three reasons. I loved the cover! (teacup), substantially reduced price and it had been recommended by Trisha Ashley (author of a good book I'd just finished reading).

Somehow, with all my other book purchases this novel had lain untouched until now. Had I even suspected it would be half as good as it was I'd have read it immediately.

Well, where do I start. Plots in the form of chapters, primarily told from the view point of Eliza now in her early forties and Sandra/Cassandra, more a bit part player relaying her school day stories featuring Eliza, Rose, Portia and Julian. In between, a few chapters are given over to an unknown character. As well as these there are a whole plethora of wonderful characters, none neglected all superbly constructed, weaving the fabric of the story together.

What a treat, although a sad subject underpins the whole plot, Marika Cobbold's wit and humour, not to mention her beautifully descriptive writing had me completely hooked and chuckling the whole way through this novel......

"She didn't regret having given them a fright, she said. But she did mind having driven over a very handy thermos flask. Apparently it matched their cold-box. 'The trouble is' Ruth had told me, 'that they don't sell them any more, not even at John Lewis'........" - PURE GENIUS!!

I thought I had a handle on this plot but I wasn't bothered because I was enjoying it so much but then a twist came along (some may argue glaringly obvious) and I had a 'Eureka' moment.

I think it's obvious I absolutely loved this novel and the author, this being the first of her books I've read, but it will definitely not be my last. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 March 2012
I wasn't sure about this book when I started it as I found Eliza's voice overly chatty, jumping from subject to subject but all this changed fairly quickly and I got drawn into the story. Eliza and Cassandra tell us in there own words about their lives in the sixth form at a select boarding school. It details Eliza's relationship with her Godfather now an elderly man which are acutely drawn, subtle yet profound.

Marika Cobbold draws an accurate picture of how women often behave and think, the skill often learnt in childhood of seething inside whilst acting totally differently is one that Cassandra hasn't quite pulled off yet. She is set apart from the princeses, as she calls the group of friends, wanting both to be part of the group whilst similitaneously mocking and loathing them. Alhough there were some time specific phrases which appeared a good 20 years before they would have been used (PDA) this book delighted me, it is one of those beautiful books whose themes of guilt and loss will stay with me.
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on 30 December 2011
Eliza has spent all of her adult life haunted by the fact that she caused her close school friend Rose to die in a tragic accident. The story begins with Eliza's guilt ridden life in the present and continues by going back to the past and her time at boarding school, where we also hear Cassandra's tale, a girl who is desperate to fit in with Rose and Eliza. As Cassandra and Eliza's entwined stories both past and present unfold we learn of the incidents which have taken place leading up to Rose's death.
An interesting, insightful and witty novel which touches so well on human emotions.
I found myself totally absorbed in this very good book, highly recommend.
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on 18 January 2018
I am enjoying reading this book by an author who writes well and captures your imagination. My 2nd book by this lady.
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on 12 December 2014
I bought the book on the basis of reading the positve reviews on this website and because I enjoyed Cobbold's previous books. I didn't particularly enjoy this one however, even though it was quite readable. It was predictable and too often cliched which barely raised it above the level of chick lit - albeit the better end of chick lit. The author's previous novels were much more original.
Sandra/Cassandra was the most interesting character and I would rather have read an entire novel based around her life. The main character Eliza, although portrayed as being engagingly flawed is nevertheless not particularly likeable or interesting and I didn't really care what happened to her.
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on 5 February 2018
I really enjoyed this book and loved the way it was written. It is the first of Marika Cobbold books I have read but look forward to reading more.
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on 23 February 2012
I loved this book. It is written from the point of view of two women; Eliza, a ceramics restorer in present day London, and Sandra, a teenage girl trying to fit in at boarding school, back in Eliza's school days. The two women are linked by Rose, a young girl who drowned. The story switches between the two different points of view and quite often in books this annoys me, there's usually one story that I rush through to get to the more interesting one. But in this book it works really well.
This book is really easy to read in that the writing alone conveys the complexities of the different stories, it doesn't have to try too hard. On the surface it's a simple story but underneath it's full of brilliantly subtle observations that had me nodding my head, and is full of dark humour. There are bits of Eliza that everyone can identify with, she's certainly not a flawless main character. (I loved the part where Eliza is persuaded to go along to a support group for people with 'toxic guilt').
There are moments where Marika Cobbold describes perfectly the awkwardness of certain relationships and situations; the conversations between Eliza and her step-sister are both uncomfortable and funny at the same time. She also captures the feelings of isolation at school really well, that need to fit in while at the same time wanting to be different. I felt sorry for Sandra/Cassandra yet at the same time found her irritating.
I loved how it switched between London and Sweden and I also learnt a little bit about ceramics restoration. Any book that teaches you something, and makes you think, is definitely worth a read.
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