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on 14 August 2010
A total surprise after The Birth of Venus. Completly differnt genre but equally beautifull written. A thought provoking book that I would recommend.
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on 15 December 2000
This is another intelligent thriller from Sarah Dunant, very much in the Transgressions league. It's also a thought-provoking insight into female friendship, female self-image and why women ally themselves with relentlessly unsuitable men.
Very good - heavier than Dunant's earlier (and much much missed - PLEASE reprint them!) series of Hannah Wolfe detective novels but no less well written and finely plotted.
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on 27 November 2015
After enjoying “Blood and Beauty” and “Birth of Venus” I thought I’d catch up on some of Dunant’s earlier novels.

This one written in 1988 is a straightforward novel compared to these 2 books.

Elly is in a dangerous relationship with her drug-dealing boyfriend and wants to end it but lacks the courage to do so. She invites her oldest friend to stay with her in America in the hope she’ll help her make the right decision. What follows is an intriguing story of relationships, loyalty, truth and betrayal.

It is well written although not quite as lyrical as the historical novels. I also don’t think time has favoured this novel. Some novels with classic themes are timeless but I think this one with the dominance of foreign travel and the drug trade dates it a little bit and it’s only through the quality of writing and the intricate exploration of female friendship that makes it still an interesting read 27 years later.
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VINE VOICEon 27 February 2011
I highly recommend this tense, intelligent thriller which explores the nature of relationships between several key characters, while delivering a compelling story centred around the cocaine trade. Narrated by complex, emotionally self-contained Marla, through whose eyes the story is filtered (she is not unreliable, exactly, but she is certainly not unbiased; her account should be considered in light of her personality trains, secrets and obessions that come to light as the story progresses), the plot unravels gradually without recourse to obvious twists or cheap thrills. The ending is intriguing: simultaneously fixed and open to interpretation. There are few 'black & white' certainties in this novel, simply interpretations. My only small criticism is that while this was, for me, a page-turner, read in a matter of days, arguably there was scope to ratchet up the tension a little further in places. Excellent writing from Sarah Dunant, however; her characterisation is thoughtful and intricate, her heroines always a little unusual. I look forward to reading Transgressions next.
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on 24 February 2011
Sarah Dunant has to be one of my favourite authors - and this book certainly lived up to her standards.

Elly and Marla have been friends for 18 years. Elly has been travelling for over a year, when Marla suddenly receives an SOS message from her, asking her to come to New York.

Elly has been living with a cocaine dealer, Lenny, and wants Marla around to give her the courage to leave him. When Marla meets Lenny the next day she discovers he is the attractive man she noticed on the same plane as her - why has he come to the flat so much later? When they are briefly alone Lenny gives her an explanation, and asks that she does not tell Elly. Marla instantly dislikes and distrusts Lenny, and is concerned for Elly.

Elly wants to go to J.T.'s place in Santa Cruz with Marla, to have time to breathe, and to catch up with her friend. J. T. is Lenny's ex business partner, now retired from the world of cocaine dealing, and devoting himself to his properties, and to his beloved vegetables. Elly and Marla relax in his guesthouse, but are not able to do this for long before Lenny gets in touch and wants Elly to meet him.

J.T. warns Marla that Elly needs to get away, that she is in danger if she stays with Lenny. Normally monosyllabic, he opens up to Marla, telling her some of the past history between himself and Lenny.

There is indeed danger. Can Marla protect Elly? Can Elly make a complete break from Lenny? You need to read this excellent book to find out - any more would be a spoiler!
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on 8 January 2013
Not as good as some of her other books but very readable and she is a very good story teller
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on 2 August 2009
I really enjoyed this, although not as much as "Transgressions" - my favourite of SDs novels. It's written in the late eighties, and it's fascinating how much the internet - and even more - mobile phones - have changed our lives. Much of the plot would have to be very different, and it's interesting to remember how hard it was sometimes to communicate, to find a phone, for example. This is not a criticism, just an observation of how life has changed in 20 years.

The novel seems to lose it's way about two thirds of the way in, when the girls are staying at the house by the cavern. But it picks up again, and is definitely worth your time.
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on 5 March 2016
I've read Dunant's novels & preferred her historical style...an ordinary read
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