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I have read Jon McGregor's previous novels and have always been amazed at his talent for making the lives of ordinary people seem somehow extraordinary. And this novel continues that theme, but on a much larger scale.
Told over a lengthy time period, the narrative tells of the lives of numerous characters who all live in a northern village which is dealt hammer blow when a young girl, a visitor to the village, goes missing. Some of the villagers remain, some leave and then return to it; but throughout the tale their lives and backstories are described gradually and with bittersweet humanity against a backdrop of the everyday rhythms of village life, seasonal events and references to the surrounding geography and nature. Secrets are revealed and concealed, relationships break against or survive the trauma of the mystery surrounding the missing girl and tension builds up towards the final chapter. Towards the end, one character becomes a focus for doubt and I began to wonder if I had guessed the fate of the girl.
The ending of the novel is ambiguous (to my mind) and I found this quite frustrating. That aside though, I loved the languid pace of the novel, the beauty of the language and the variety of the characters. I felt that I had shared their hopes and dreams, their tragedies and their secrets. The author reveals much about character and motivation in the smallest of details and in spare but incisive dialogue.
I really loved this novel and it will stay with me for a long time, I'm sure.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A perfectly valid insight into village life, but it just never gets going. I found it difficult to distinguish between the myriad of (perfectly reasonably) uninteresting characters, and whilst the narrator is fine, he doesn't add anything to help differentiate them either. Not one I'm going to listen to again.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I kept waiting for this book to get better... but it didn't. I am sure if you lived in that part of the world you would have enjoyed the narrative that beautifully followed the seasons - but very little substance.
didnt finish, trief hard to, stpryline all over the place, very boringgg.
0 of 4 people found this review helpful