Top positive review
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Bittersweet, painful and finely-drawn
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.