With relatively few words this author seems able to create images, emotions and sensations beyond expectations. This makes the process of reading enjoyable as you can immerse yourself into situations and places. The novel is set in a small town outside London, although I couldn't get away from an American feel with the big house and family all around. There are many characters in the story some of which are drawn better than others. David and Harriet, the main characters, are developed to the point that they become acquaintances rather than friends, someone who you know but not well enough to understand. There seems to be a deliberate drawing of their marriage to place it as the opposite of the "greedy and selfish sixties". The warm family environment is created until the Fifth Child is conceived which turns everything in its head. The exploration of motherhood that the book encourages tackles difficult feelings between Harriet and all of her children. As her approach with Ben effects her relationship with everyone else around her. I couldn't help but think about "We Need To Talk About Kevin" which tackles a similar subject but uses a different method of analysing. In this comparison, The Fifth Child does look old fashioned but it still a very valid read. There are times that Harriet and David's attitude to Ben sounds very odd, bearing in mind it is the 1980s rather than medieval times. Within it's just over 150 pages it covers a large time span. I really enjoyed the book but felt it could have been longer, during which time we would have found out more about some of the characters. I'll console myself with reading the sequel. Also worth mentioning is that I loved the ending as it felt very real.