Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
on 21 July 2009
Not my usual kind of book, either - but as Stockport is my hometown, I was attracted by its northern setting. (Stockport is loosely fictionalised as Staveley, and Joan Bakewell dredges up a few details that I'd quite forgotten like the old Essoldo cinema ... long gone I imagine?)
Unfortunately, like many journalists who turn to fiction, Bakewell is a competent writer - but that's as far as it goes and this novel is lacking in any real spark. This is fiction-by-numbers, no better than an old-fashioned women's magazine serial. She throws in all the ingredients as if she's following a recipe; mix 4oz of illegitimate birth, 5oz of kidney transplant sub-plot ... and what do you get, a trite and unconvincing ending!
On the historical side, she has done her homework - but lacks the skill to infuse it with life.
It isn't a dreadful book. It's a quick, easy read - just a bit plodding.
A girls' grammar school 'adopts' a merchant ship during WW2, the serious-minded headmistress falls for the ship's master ... and lives are tangled down to the present generation. It passed an evening, but was very forgettable.