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Tuesday 11 March 2008


by Margaret Forster

Over is not a book full of action, but rather a convincing psychological study of grief and how individuals react in different ways.

Louise and Don’s teenage daughter Miranda has died in a sailing accident. Louise, a kindly infant teacher, slowly picks herself up and tries to move on, whilst supporting Miranda’s twin sister and younger brother, but Don becomes obsessed with searching for answers, with trying to find something or someone to blame. Louise tells the story of the inevitable disintegration of a family, with frequent time shifts between the new life she is building for herself and earlier events.

I read this book at the time that Mohamed Al-Fayed’s evidence from the inquest of Princess Diana was being reported and the grief of an unexpectedly bereaved parent, with a natural instinct to need to apportion blame, seemed all too familiar.

The novel is beautifully written in spare prose where every word counts and where much is left unsaid, for the reader to deduce. It has emotional authenticity in its depiction of how a tragedy can shatter ordinary lives yet, at the same time ultimately provides the impetus to rebuild and try to carry on. Despite the subject matter this is moving rather than overwhelmingly sad and at 200 pages, it is a perfect length for a book where not much actually happens.

reviewed by Catherine Walter

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