Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE FAMILY LINE by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble

Today’s Team Review is from Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Family Line by Laura Wilkinson

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‘The Family Line’ by Laura Wilkinson #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Megan is a former foreign correspondent whose life is thrown into turmoil when her son is diagnosed with a terminal illness: a degenerative disease passed down the mother’s line. In order to save him, Megan will have to unearth the truth about her origins and about a catastrophic event from the past. She must confront the strained relationship she has with her mother, make sense of the family history that has been hidden from her all her life, and embark on a journey of self-discovery that stretches halfway around the world. Set in a much-changed Britain in the mid-twenty-first century, The Family Line is the debut novel from acclaimed writer Laura Wilkinson, now revised and proudly reissued by Accent Press.

This is a really clever idea for a novel. There are some diverse and very interesting themes going on here – the rather grim future in store for us if we don’t change our ways, the harm that secrets and lies can do, the consequences of thinking only of ourselves, and the strength there is in family and love.

The book begins in 2048, the world coping with the consequences of climate change and the aftermath of a terrible plague. Megan, a correspondent, is pregnant and returns home to her native Wales to live with her mother. The details of how the world has changed are subtly done, introduced through the way the characters live and their surroundings. This works really well.

We then move forward a few years to Megan finding out that her son has a degenerative disease. Megan needs to delve into her family’s past in order to find a way to save him. Her mother has always been secretive, but circumstances force her to tell Megan the truth, and what she recalls takes Megan to Romania to discover their true origins.

I did have a couple of issues with this novel. It was very slow to get started and did drag a little. I didn’t really engage with it until I came to Elizabeth’s story. It was here that the narrative seemed to come alive. The build up to the plague and the devastating consequences was brilliantly done and really gripping. Elizabeth is a fantastic character, warm, three-dimensional and relatable. I didn’t feel like this about Megan however, and found her very difficult to like. She seemed selfish and her lack of empathy or sympathy for Elizabeth made it hard for me to care about her. She was too hard and too cold and while she may have had reason to be so, those reasons didn’t come across clearly enough for me to like her.

I also felt that the storyline around her son was wrapped up too quickly. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers, but it just seemed too easy.

That said, there are parts of this novel that are absolutely brilliant, really page-turning and emotional. Elizabeth’s grief and suffering is harrowing to read and so well done. Laura Wilkinson is a great storyteller, and this book has a lot to commend it. She’s certainly an author to look out for.

Four out of five stars

Find Laura on Twitter @ScorpioScribble

Find a copy of the book here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE FAMILY LINE by @ScorpioScribble #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from E.L. Lindley, she blogs at http://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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E.L. Has been reading The Family Line by Laura Wilkinson

The Family Line

The Family Line by Laura Wilkinson is an unusual but gripping story set in the near future. Wilkinson cleverly uses her novel to construct a world that acts as a cautionary tale of what could become of us if we fail to mend our ways.

We are introduced to the main character, foreign correspondent Megan Evens, in a prologue where the independent, sparky thirty something is trying to escape a militarised Muslim area to return to London. The impression is immediately created that Megan is a tough, no-nonsense, driven woman.

These are qualities that serve her well when she finds herself a single mother and opts to return to her family home in Wales. Her life is turned upside down even further when she discovers that her young son has a hereditary condition called AMNA and without a bone marrow transplant he will not survive into adulthood. Megan determines that she will stop at nothing to find a genetic match for her child but in doing so uncovers life changing family secrets.

Wilkinson separates her novel into three parts: the present, the past and the future. During the first part (present) of the novel, we are given clues that the world has been dramatically altered, for example there is food and water rationing and restrictions on travelling. However, it is not until the second section (past) that we learn the truth. The ‘past’ is told from Megan’s mother, Elizabeth’s, point of view and she describes how in 2025 a plague wiped out 50% of the UK population which has unspeakable ramifications for both Elizabeth and the unwitting Megan. The final section (future) of the novel sees Megan travelling to Romania with her mentor, friend and fellow journalist, Jack North, in an attempt to unravel the past and find a bone marrow match for Megan’s child.

I found the novel to be extremely dark and in places truly disturbing. My favourite section of the novel is the ‘past’ and it is in this section that Wilkinson’s writing evokes terrifying imagery in the way she describes the onset of the plague. She presents us with a realistic scenario where infestations of rats, some as big as small dogs, act as the harbinger of the terror that is to come. The terrible suffering that the people endured is also made heartbreakingly real by Wilkinson’s vivid imagery.

What I particularly like about Wilkinson’s novel is the way in which she explores very relevant issues by taking them to their extreme potential trajectory. For example, the plague is a man-made one created for warfare that is somehow released. The rats are breeding because of the amount of waste people discard and they consequently spread the plague like wild fire. There are also climate changes causing droughts and floods brought about by mankind’s selfish disregard for the environment. After the plague, people determine to be more mindful of the problems they are causing but, little more than thirty years later they are already neglecting the environment once more and the suggestion is the whole 2025 catastrophe could be repeated.

As a result of the plague, the population is massively depleted and a ‘breeding frenzy’ ensues. This leads to women who are past natural child bearing age or infertile seeking out donated eggs. As egg donation becomes big business, poor countries become exploited as young women and girls are offered money for their eggs. The consequences of this are dire as none of the donors are checked for any health implications. Wilkinson raises the question of whether it is a woman’s right to bear a child just because she wants one. The idea is taken to its extreme when we are presented with the grotesque image of a pregnant woman in her seventies.

Wilkinson also explores the guilt associated with hereditary conditions. AMNA is a disease where females are the carriers and males the sufferers. However, this is made even more complex because not every mother will pass it onto her sons; it’s a random condition that can skip a generation or strike just one boy in a family. If this were the case, would you risk having children and how would you live with yourself if you passed a life limiting, terrible disease onto your child. Wilkinson touches upon genetic engineering and the question of where it would stop. If we used it to eradicate potential illness is it not then human nature to become even more demanding in a quest for perfection?

Another question raised by the novel is the impact of nurture over nature. Although nature dictates our physical attributes and weaknesses, nurture can be just as life limiting. Megan has been nurtured by a mother who is defined by secrets. This has had a disastrous effect on their relationship as Elizabeth has seemed emotionally absent to Megan. Megan herself is a cold, aloof character who, despite her passion for social justice, doesn’t give of herself emotionally. Her relationships with others seem functional rather than warm and caring.

I really liked The Family Line; I found it interesting and thought provoking. My only slight criticism is that because the book has such a dark and uncertain tone throughout, the ending, when it comes, seems a little bit neat and tidy. That being said, lots of readers do prefer books with a definitive conclusion.

The Family Line is not a light summer read but it is a thoughtful and well written story of where we could all potentially end up. If you like a novel that is unusual and makes you think, then this one is for you.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT REDEMPTION SONG by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

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Alison has been reading Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson

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Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson

Saffron and her mother Rain have moved to North Wales to start again after a tragedy that has caused them heartbreak, guilt, and confusion. Joe is also running, trying to escape a past that haunts him while simultaneously bent on revenge.

The story is told from three different points of view – Saffron, Rain and Joe. In many novels, this can be confusing, but Laura Wilkinson is a skilful writer and the point of view changes are seamless, with each character having their own distinct voice. The different points of view give a fresh perspective on many of the issues facing the characters and the conflicts between them.

The author has a real ability to give a sense of time and place. Small town North Wales was authentically portrayed and the other characters – Saffy’s new friend Ceri and her father in particular- are a joy to read, honestly portrayed and entertaining. The oppression and depression of a Welsh winter, the drabness of a seaside town off-season are beautifully contrasted with descriptions of the beauty of the countryside in sunshine and snow.

This isn’t a fast-paced drama. The histories of the characters come out slowly, the reader discovering things along with Saffy, Rain and Joe. This works well for the most part, but was a little frustrating at times.

The characters are, for the most part, easy to sympathise with. Rain is lovely, kind and caring if a little OTT at times, but her love for her daughter is clear. Joe too, while mysterious, is genuine and honest, and you know that whatever has happened in the past, there must be a good reason for it! Saffy, however, left me feeling conflicted. She seems very selfish, and is quite horrible to her lovely mum. This would be more understandable if Saffy was a teenager, but she is in her twenties and is studying to be a doctor. The stroppy, selfish, tantrum-throwing side of her character doesn’t seem to fit and I wondered why it didn’t put Joe off.

I also feel that the back stories aren’t developed enough. I don’t want to give too much away but Joe’s issues are dealt with a little too neatly and conveniently for me. This aspect of the plot could have been given more depth and detail.

The writing is solid, however, and it’s a well-crafted and enjoyable read.

Four out of five stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT REDEMPTION SONG by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith has been reading The Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson

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I liked Redemption Song; as the blurb says it’s  captivating novel. Laura Wilkinson has an even,straightforward writing style that actually disguises the difficulty in keeping together what is a complex story. On the whole the plot runs smoothly, giving equal balance to the tension and the everyday lives of the characters.

The characters of the two protagonists, Saffron and Joe are well written and rounded; it’s easy to empathise with each of them and to follow their progress, both individually and in the way their relationship grows. I liked the descriptions of their appearance; they way they looked, the clothes worn, deftly and subtly inserted without a heavy handed ‘dumping’ of detail. The other characters that provide a background to the story:Rain, Saffron’s mother, Eifion and Ceri are also well defined and add a sub-plot that weaves deftly through the main plot.

The dialogue is realistic, although sometimes the internal dialogue felt too much like the spoken dialogue and less like a stream of consciousness. Saying that, I was able to tell who was speaking all the way through the book; the author gave each character an individual, distinctive voice.

The descriptions of the various settings: the church, the seaside town of Coed Mawr, the pier, are well written and convincing; I think it worth mentioning that  there are some beautiful descriptions of Coed Mawr.  I found it easy  to imagine the characters moving around in each scene

There are only two reasons I didn’t give Redemption Song five stars and the first is a personal one; I became irritated by the drawn out mystery of Joe’s background, the constant mention of his need for revenge and the flatness of the characters, Simon and Freddie. I realised they were friends from Joe’s school-days but they didn’t come alive for me in the way I thought they should have when I discovered their importance to the story.  The other reason was I wasn’t quite convinced by the character of Allegra but I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because I felt she was portrayed as a one-sided character, maybe it was because, as a reader I learned something of her earlier in the book but wasn’t sure exactly why she was part of the story.

Anyway, this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story as a whole. I loved Laura Wilkinson’s s writing style and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.  I would definitely recommend Redemption Song

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

Find copies here:

Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1RoLONL

Amazon.com

http://amzn.to/1K2N1Ct

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT REDEMPTION SONG by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble #WeekendBlogHop

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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Terry has been reading Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson

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Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson

3.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s review team

Redemption Song starts off on a lonely track in wintry North Wales when Saffron de Lacy’s car breaks down and the mysterious Joe comes to her aid. He learns she is a Baptist minister’s daughter; when he drives her home she invites him in, and he meets her mother, Rain.

The story tells of three people’s road back from emotional trauma, and alternates between the points of view of Saffron, Joe and Rain. This is done very well, with each character’s section revealing their hidden side without overdoing it, each ‘voice’ different enough to be convincing. A quick mention for the amusing surprise at the end of Chapter Three – like Joe, I didn’t see it coming at all!

Rain is very real, and likable, but I found it hard to connect with either Joe or Saffron at first, as Saffron is an twenty-five year old, qualified doctor who behaves like a stroppy teenager, and Joe is a slightly rough and ready carpenter with the vocabulary of one much more educated; however, it soon becomes clear that there are many secrets to come out, about all three main characters, and these explain the incongruities; it was the slow drip of information that kept me turning the pages. I found myself particularly fascinated by the truth about Joe, who I definitely started to fancy as the book went on!

The minor characters are more immediately appealing. I could see Saffron’s friend Ceri (the ‘Welsh Vicky Pollard’) straight away, and also her lovely father, and Saffron’s nit-picking boss at Wynne’s ‘department store’; I’ve lived in small town Norfolk, and Wynne’s sounded just like Cromer Indoor Market ~ very well drawn.

I chose this to review because I adored Laura Wilkinson’s debut, ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’, set during the 1980s miners’ strike.  It’s equally well written, but it’s a very different sort of book, a slow paced, gradual unfolding with lots of detail, rather than a down-to-earth, events orientated drama.  It’s about the journey rather than the destination….

A nicely structured drama for readers who enjoy curling up and getting to know their characters in an in-depth fashion.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

WINNER and Runner-Up of the Contemporary 2015 Book Award

Winner Contemporary

The 2015 Golden Rose Book Award for Contemporary

Went to Mark Barry and his book The Night Porter

Mark Barry Night Porter

Meet Mark

Mark Barry, author of Hollywood Shakedown, the highly acclaimed Carla and the top selling Ultra-Violence, is a writer and publisher based in Nottingham and Southwell. He writes extensively on a variety of topics including, horseracing, football, personality disorders and human relationships, but most recently, he writes about life in Nottingham and monitors closely its ever changing face.

Mark has been interviewed on several Radio chat shows where he has given readings of his work. His writing has been featured in the national press, and he has also been interviewed on television.

Mark resides in Southwell, Nottinghamshire and has one son, Matthew.

Catch up with Mark on Twitter @GreenWizard62

Book Description

Set in a hotel, in November, in the fictional town of Wheatley Fields, (based on Southwell, near Nottinghamshire, deep in Sherwood Forest).

Four writers, all nominated for an upcoming awards ceremony, come to stay.

One mega successful romance author, a top US thriller writer who sells in seven figures, a beautiful young YA tyro on the brink of world wide stardom…

…and a degenerate, nasty, bitter, jealous, trollish, drunken (but brilliant), self-published contemporary fiction author.

The Night Porter is instructed by a secretive and powerful awards committee to look after their EVERY need, to ensure they make it through the two weeks to attend the ceremony. At the same time as keeping an eye on their wishes, antics, fights, relationships and never-ending ego explosions. And trying desperately to avoid getting involved himself.

It’s a comedy drama about writers (and Night Porters!) with twists and turns, nooks and crannies, shadows and mirrors.

I don’t think you will see an Indie published book like this anywhere in Cyberspace.
Probably not a tradpubbed one either.

It casts a sometimes shadowy light on modern publishing, the writing business – and the people in it. Writers who like to read about writers and writing will enjoy the book as will readers who enjoy innovative, clever and multi-layered fiction.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The Silver Award went to

Terry Tyler and her book Last Child

Terry and Last Child

Meet Terry

Terry Tyler is fascinated by the psychology behind personal relationships, which is why she writes character-driven contemporary dramas. From the rock star aspirations of the lighthearted ‘Dream On’ and ‘Full Circle’, to the dark and complex psychological web of her latest publication, ‘The House of York’, it’s all about the characters, though she loves manufacturing unguessable plot twists, too. Watch out for ‘Bestseller’, a novella about three writers, due out around March.

She has a blog on which she writes about anything from observations about social networking trends, to self-publishing hazards, to anything else that comes into her head, and is currently running a feature about writers and astrology. The link: http://www.terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/ . This year she started a new book review blog; on this you can find her own reading choices and those she reads as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. She loves Twitter (TerryTyler4) and can also be found on Goodreads and Facebook.

Terry lives in the north east of England with her husband; when she is not writing she escapes into Netflix and history books/documentaries, or floats around the house spraying Guerlain perfume, listening to old jazz and blues and pretending she’s in ‘Boardwalk Empire’.

Catch up with Terry on Twitter @TerryTyler4

Book Description

LAST CHILD is the sequel to Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler’s modern take on the story of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Harry Lanchester is gone, his legacy passed on to his children:

Thirteen year old JASPER, who views the directors of Lanchester Estates as Harry Potter characters, and finds out that teenage love affairs are no fairytale.

ISABELLA, the eldest daughter; lonely and looking for love, she returns from a holiday in Spain with more than just a suntan.

Impulsive, independent ERIN, the girl of Transport manager Rob Dudley’s dreams, whose priority is not a husband and family, but the continuation of her father’s work.

You will also meet the ambitious Jim Dudley, ex-nanny Hannah Cleveley, Rob’s long suffering wife Amy, and Raine Grey, whose nine days as PR manager for Lanchester Estates have a devastating effect on her life.

LAST CHILD takes the drama, passion and intrigue of Kings and Queens into the present day, with echoes from the past ~ and a glimpse or two into the future…

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Final congratulations to all the Contemporary nominees.

Sue Hewitt with THE CUNNING WOMAN’S CUP

Laura Wilkinson with PUBLIC BATTLES, PRIVATE WARS

Tonia Parronchi with THE SONG OF THE CYPRESS

Dena Haggerty with JACK GETS HIS MAN

 

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble

Today’s team book review comes from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith chose to read and review Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson

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Public Battles, Private Wars  is a novel is right up my street.  I mainly chose to read it because of its setting in Yorkshire.  I remember the miners’ strike in 1983 so well and I knew someone on both sides of the conflict; My uncle was a policeman who was sent to one of the mining villages, and the father of one of my friend’s was a minor on strike.

It was a hard time and Laura Wilkinson expertly captures the politics and tension within this community, the roles expected of women both in the home and in society and, equally, the personal battles between friends and families.

Told from the  protagonist’s point of view, Mandy Walker, the narrative moves steadily and is threaded through with many themes: of loyalty, love, relationships, political divisions, disillusionment. Even knowing the final outcome of this fiction built on fact book, the reader is pulled along: from the buoyant belief that the minors will be able to fight the decisions made by Margaret Thatcher’s Government, through the physical pain of grinding poverty and to the villagers’ gradual realisation that the life they have always known is gone for good. Until finally, there is a reluctant acceptance for what cannot be changed.

The characters are rounded and each, in their own way, grows within the story. Mandy is initially revealed as a fraught, insecure wife and mother, a woman at the end of her tether. But one who, through the adversity, is forced to confront the truth of her life and find the inner strength to go in a new and unexpected direction. And the sub plot, the life-long friendship between Mandy and Ruth Braithwaite (held up by the protagonist as someone to aspire to emulate) reinforces the main plot and is used to strengthen that change in Mandy. She sees the weakness in Ruth and the balance of their friendship is inevitably tipped.  It is through Mandy we see the hope of the future.

The sparing dialogue, although not in dialect (thank goodness!) brilliantly places the novel in Yorkshire and underlines the portrayal of the characters: the tough Braithwaite family, Mandy’s sulky, hard-drinking husband, Rob and even minor characters such as their next-door neighbour, Doug..

The author writes brilliantly evocative descriptions of each setting that the characters move through; the village, the moors surrounding, individual houses and the community hall. All bring such a sense of place that I was able to picture each setting, imagine the atmosphere, feel the stress. Yet there is always the humour, both in the dialogue and in the narrative.

What a treat this book was for me. I have no hesitation in recommending Public Wars, Private Battles. Well worth five stars.

Find Laura’s novel here;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Public-Battles-Private-Laura-Wilkinson-ebook/dp/B00IX0A9RI

http://www.amazon.com/Public-Battles-Private-Laura-Wilkinson/dp/1783755164

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble

Today we have a review from team member Amanda, she blogs at https://ajbookreviewclub.wordpress.com/

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Amanda chose to read and review Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson

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WHAT I SAY

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK LAURA AND ROSIE FOR LETTING ME READ AND REVIEW THIS BOOK AS PART OF ROSIE BOOK REVIEW TEAM

I learned so much from this book it help me understand the hard times and the struggles the miners and their families had during the early 1980’s i enjoy hearing about the mining community it found it a very fascinating and emotional story it had just the right about on humour in there too.

The story will keep guessing about where the story line going and all the characters i like the mystery side of the story too some parts were very sad it a story of survive and one women personal journey it got love , friendship , jealousy and this wonderful community spirit that do not get much now days

Mandy and Rob married at a very young age they soon had kids Rob followed his family to work down the pits this was what most young man did.

Mandy had a dream she wants to learn to type could she take on her dream ?

Soon the men would be out of work as Mrs Thatcher wanted to shut down the pits  so the men when on strike.

How will the family cope Mandy and Rob had 4 kids .

Soon Mandy joins her old school friend Ruth in a action group Mandy loves to cook so she was all making food for the group soon a journalist hear of them a interviews her for the local paper soon she the voice for the miners this proves her a lifeline soon there lives  changed beyond recognition this story shows you the impact it had on the family and the community

Mandy now so heavily involved in the protest again the government but soon her private life seems to be suffering to can they cope with all this ?

Mandy story just shines over the background story of the miner strikes

All the characters are strong and so realistic It a lovely funny emotional book it so beautifully written i found the story so interesting to read

I will say i did find the start a bit slow but please don’t let this put you off it a great book to read i recommend you all read.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson @ScorpioScribble

Today we have a review from Helen

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Helen chose to read and review Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson

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This was a really enjoyable read, and it almost got another star from me – what held it back was it not being quite clear what sort of book it was meant to be.
The social setting, a Yorkshire village in the time of the miners’ strikes, was powerfully drawn, convincing, and, for me, enlightening – I’d never spent time thinking about the personal consequences of this particular issue, and it gave me a really vivid impression of what it might have been like.
And the central character was fantastic, in her determination and her finding of unlikely strength. I believed in her progress through the novel, and in the way she responded to events – she wasn’t just drawn and then kept solid through the action, but underwent real and complex changes in response to her situation.
So, two skilled and subtle parts to the book, but then the romance was a real turnoff for me. I just didn’t think it needed it – perhaps (at a push) we needed the part relating to the central character’s husband, but not the rest of it. I can see why you might think it was necessary – to give more “human depth” to the story, and to extend it – but actually I think it limited it, by pushing it into a genre that it could have escaped from. I don’t think there’s an issue with romance novels, but this was so much more ambitious in its premise that it seemed a shame to push it back into the box.
(Oh, and was quiche lorraine really so exotic, for someone who’d been reading all about cooking and new what pasta alfredo was?)

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com