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on 29 June 2012
Susan Wicks's novel is an elegant sequence of connected stories about the people living in a small French town over one summer, though its threads stretch out beyond these limits, making this more than a simple snapshot of everyday lives. At the centre of the novel is the theme of pilgrimage - there's a pilgrim path running through the town - and the characters' paths through life are seen in this light, although theirs is a 'pilgrimage without belief'. The book is full of what Laura, a visitor to the town might describe as 'all kinds of weird phenomena that weren't exactly religious, but couldn't be readily accounted for either. Coincidences. Chains of events that don't seem entirely random and yet appear to be set off totally by chance.' The book wears its underlying theme lightly though, and we are above all engaged by Wicks's storytelling - she is also a poet, and brings to A Place to Stop a strong sense of place and an eye for a telling detail, as well as her enjoyment of working within a symmetrical structure.
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on 19 September 2015
A thoroughly unsatisfactory exercise in creative writing.
From the first paragraph I was annoyed by it being written in the present tense. Mercifully this changed at random to the past tense in later chapters. A dozen characters were introduced, loosely connected by living in a French village; they all had problems of various kinds but we never find out what happens to any of them. The book just ends and that's that.
Occasionally the text is padded out with some flowery descriptions of things which add nothing much to the story.
A good novel needs to engage its readers with either a gripping story or captivating writing - preferably both. This book had neither.
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on 18 April 2014
I like to read new writers' work and I have great respect for Salt. Some local atmosphere. Some reasonably good writing. However I found it unengaging and quite boring. Slow and predictable.
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on 18 March 2013
What did I like so much about this book that simply delves into the lives of a handful of disparate people from a village in France, exploring the tensions between them? I think it's simply that beautiful writing can be absolutely riveting.

Each chapter gives us more of a particular character and advances the story overall infinitesimally. The humour is subtle; Pete thinks Aubrillac is 'so French', while the locals think it's lit up for the British. The local taxi driver hates the Brits for buying up all the property, yet you can't help but like Pete, smug and crass as he may be, for feeling so happy to be able to have his place in the sun that he doesn't want to spoil it by admitting he may be ill.

It's a similar book to the much-praised 'Swimming Home', but I much preferred this. Subtlety, beautiful writing, intriguing characters - a huge pleasure to read.
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on 14 April 2014
I was lent this but might have bought it based on the reviews. However, I found it very diappointing. It was a fascinating idea, but I found the style of writing cloying and ponderous.
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on 5 February 2014
Lives are changed forever in this charming and moral Anglo-French story. A generally satisfactory tale of love lost and found.
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