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Lyrical prose but forgettable storyline
on 18 December 2010
This is a book written in beautiful dreamy, lyrical prose, fragile and delicate as the moths and butterflies which appear in the story-line - but, like the dead butterflies themselves, the beauty is on the surface, and the body and content of the book lacks somewhat in substance.
Two love stories play out over a single day, neither perfect. But neither is terriby original: the secrets of Edwardian households vs. the imperfections of modern marriage.
The tone overall has a kind of faded elegance about it, like a sepia-tinted photo. At some points the ornate prose feels lovely; at others it's a bit overdone and I felt like someone overdosed on chocolate: it might be very good quality but a surfeit leaves one crying out for something more robust and savoury to cut through the cloying-ness.
This is very literarily self-conscious with its title from Eliot and the prose and structure reminiscent of Woolf (especially, I thought, Mrs Dalloway). So overall this is a book which shows a huge amount of stylistic promise but lacks anything truly important or original to say. According to the blurb Ms Sackville is 29 - hopefully she will produce further books which meld style and content in a more significant way. Recommended with reservations.