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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
By Rosy Thornton
In this novel, Rosy Thornton has created a cast of characters you’ll love so much that you won’t want to leave them behind when you finish the book.
Call centre worker Mina, struggling to bring up her daughter and sister, and academic Peter, struggling to recover from a devastating incident in his life, will have you gripped from the first page. But what made this novel outstanding for me was the way in which the supporting cast was drawn.
There are some exquisite characters in this story. Peter’s neighbour Jeremy who spends his days drawing cockroaches for a living, but can always be relied on in a crisis, his student Trish who obsesses over her dissertation and teaches his nine year old daughters to play cards for money, and Ollie the hermaphrodite dog, are all an absolute joy.
The quirky cast inhabit a world that has been skilfully and beautifully drawn. Throughout the story, descriptive details are lushly filled in, giving the story a background that springs off the page.
Rosy Thornton covers a number of important themes in this novel with a sure touch. Loss, and how people deal with it, is high on the list, but also we have the highs and lows of parenting, the power of coincidence, the pressure to conform and live life by the expectations of others, and the fear and inevitability of change.
I found this novel compelling and emotionally satisfying. I wanted to get to the end to see what happened, but at the same time I wanted not to ever get to the end because I didn’t want to leave the lives of Peter and Mina behind.
The story is intellectually satisfying in a way that reminded me of Kate Atkinson. It is a love story – but it is so much more than that. It is also a story that makes you think.
Reviewed by Helen M Hunt