I'm going to disagree with everyone so far and give it 5*, although I can see where others are coming from. To sum it up, it's about death and its effect on the living. Not the most cheerful subject I have to say and I must admit that after the first 50 pages or so, I was beginning to wonder but then something about it got hold of me and I found it engrossing reading. I won't outline the plot partly because others have done so, partly because I don't really think that's what a review should do and partly because there isn't one. You do need to stay on top of the time shifts as there is a lot of reflection into the past. There are only four characters that matter and I have to say I didn't like any of them, alive or dead. The style is not always easy with some very complicated sentences and much use of brackets, but you get used to it. I do like Graham Swift very much and still remember the effect 'Waterland' had on me years ago. One of our top writers, has to be. Talking of which, I was intrigued by references to Hardy in other reviews. I didn't see anything of that writer's fatalism in this novel at all and would you give 'Jude the Obscure' three stars because it was gloomy and pessimistic? Mmmm! This is not a novel for holiday time or for relatives of soldiers but if you've had a recent bereavement it may actually help. So no laugh a minute here, be warned. Excellent writing and very, how can I put it, haunting.