Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Book Review’

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney tells the story of what might happen if Jane Austen time-travelled from 1803 to present day Bath, then had to make a choice between true love and writing novels.

Despite watching Jane appear out of nowhere, Sofia Wentworth, who was preparing to play the role of Mrs Allen in a film adaptation of Northanger Abbey, believed that she was an actor playing Jane Austen as part of a practical joke similar to a Candid Camera scenario.

Deciding to go along with the joke, Sofia played along with the strange things Jane said and did as she reacted to modern life. For Jane, learning that six of her novels, most of which had not yet been written or conceived of in her own time, had been published and were enormously successful was overwhelming.

Realising that Jane wasn’t going to break character, Sofia took her home to stay with her at her brother Fred’s home.

Jane had already met Fred on the film set and chastised him for his lack of manners towards her when they were asked to dance together for a scene.

The story then followed both Sofia and Jane over the following months.

Sofia had recently separated from her husband who was the director of the Northanger Abbey adaptation and hoped that working together would rekindle their marriage. Sofia was also struggling emotionally with playing an older character rather than being the young, beautiful star of the film.

Although Jane and Fred found each other irritating they fell in love, however as Jane became more established in the present her novels started to disappear. Eventually Jane realised she had to choose between being a little-known writer who would only have small success in her own time and enjoying true love in the present with Fred.

Jane in Love is a story for romantics rather than for die-hard Jane Austen fans and my advice would be to read the book in the spirit of how it has been written, which is for fun.

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells was a surprise to me, mostly because I thought about the things I would do if I was invisible and they were entirely different to what the Invisible Man did.

The joke of it is that as a middle-aged woman I’m reasonably invisible as it is, except when someone else (either at home or at work) wants something from me. But, ignoring that sad truth, if I was truly invisible I would lie around all day eating chocolate and reading novels, or crocheting, painting or drawing, all without being interrupted.

Instead of making the most of his situation though, the Invisible Man, who was filled up with hatred and anger (possibly as a result of poisoning himself with strychnine) went on a reign of terror.

The Invisible Man is described as science fiction but I thought the story could also be shelved in the horror section. The science of the main character becoming invisible was something to do with mirrors, jellyfish and refracting lights something, something, then something happening in a lab with little bottles, (apologies, I don’t do science or math very well) but happily for me the story wasn’t particularly scientific apart from those bits which I skipped over.

The horror was to do with the main character’s personality and how he dealt with the challenges of being invisible, none of which he had considered before experimenting on himself.

The story began with a heavily muffled man arriving at a village inn during a snowstorm and renting a room. The man soon annoyed his landlady by demanding complete privacy but since business was slow, she put up with his increasingly rude and offensive behaviour for some time.

When a strange theft took place in one of the village’s houses it was obvious that the Invisible Man had done the crime, even though no one could understand how he had managed it. After another fight with his landlady he became invisible, then before he could be arrested, took off all of his clothes and escaped.

The Invisible Man had a series of adventures before taking shelter with an old friend, Dr Kemp, to whom he explained how he had learned to become invisible and told him how he had been living. The Invisible Man told his story honestly, with no idea that Kemp would no longer be willing to hide him after he learned just how violently he had behaved towards others (and animals) in order to further his own interests. Not surprisingly, things didn’t end well for the Invisible Man.

I was amused by the reaction of Kemp being particularly horrified by him breaking into another man’s home. I don’t know why this seemed worse to him than any of the other things the Invisible Man did, but think it might be along the lines of an Englishman’s home being his castle. About the only thing Kemp didn’t say was, “It’s just not cricket!”

I’m still surprised that the Invisible Man didn’t spend his time doing fun things instead of feeling hard done by and attempting a Reign of Terror, but we’re all different.

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

I had a feeling that I’d already read something by Elizabeth Buchan when I came across The Museum of Broken Promises so searched my blog’s archives and found that I’d previously read The Good Wife Strikes Back. According to my review I enjoyed The Good Wife but thought that I’d forget the plot sooner rather than later.

I also enjoyed The Museum of Broken Promises but think it has more depth than The Good Wife.

The Museum of Broken Promises‘ story is told across three timelines, a style which I’m a little tired of but will say that it worked well for this story. In 1985 the main character Laure Carlyle was a teenager working as a nanny in Prague for a privileged family, by 1996 brief glimpses into Laure’s life show her working as a cultural attache to the British Embassy in Berlin and in the present in Paris, Laure’s creation of a Museum of Broken Promises is a runaway success.

Coming from safe, free England, Laure found Czechoslovakia in 1985 to be drab, but once she fell in with a group of puppeteers and a rock band who were flirting dangerously with political dissidence her life became far more exciting. When Laure fell in love with the band’s lead singer Tomas, they were both exposed to danger.

In present-day Paris, one of Laure’s responsibilities was curating objects for the Museum which were displayed to illustrate stories of broken promises. Some objects represented the failure of government’s promises to their citizens, while others were children’s toys representing broken promises made to the children by their parents. Not surprisingly, items representing failed relationships featured heavily. Several of the displays featured items from Laure’s time in Prague and related to Tomas.

While I enjoyed the story I had to suspend my disbelief over certain plot lines which glossed over some fairly big issues.

I knew very little about Czechoslovakian history prior to reading this story and have since skimmed the surface to read about the Velvet Revolution. I’d love to read a novel set during these times by a Czech writer.

I also liked the idea of a museum devoted to broken promises although in the story many of the visitors found themselves grieving in front of objects that triggered their memories. In real life I would probably prefer a museum devoted to reminding me of the joys of life. I will probably read more fiction by Elizabeth Buchan eventually.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

M.L. Stedman’s debut novel The Light Between Oceans became a New York Times bestseller and was loved by readers all over the world.

After World War One, war hero Tom Sherbourne became a lighthouse-keeper, eventually working his way up to a posting on isolated Janus Island where he managed the (fictional) lighthouse station. On a trip ashore to the south-west corner of Western Australia Tom met Isabel Graysmark, the two fell in love and eventually married, despite Tom’s misgivings about how Isabel would adapt to life on the island.

At first, Isabel thrived but after she suffered multiple miscarriages over a period of several years it seemed unlikely that she and Tom would ever have a child of their own. When a boat washed ashore carrying a baby sheltered beneath a dead man, presumably the baby’s father, Isabel convinced Tom not to report the event so they could keep the baby for their own. Almost against his will Tom agreed, buried the man and set the boat adrift again.

Although Tom’s conscience bothered him, Isabel was convinced the baby they had named Lucy was an orphan.

During a trip ashore for Lucy’s christening, Tom and Isabel learned that the baby’s heartbroken mother lived nearby.

Isabel somehow convinced Tom that Lucy was better off with them than with her mother and they returned to the island. Lucy grew up to be a happy and inquisitive child but Tom, who knew they had done the wrong thing, eventually contacted Lucy’s real mother anonymously to let her know her child was safe and well.

Eventually their secret came out, leaving everyone’s lives upended again.

While I found the plot to be slightly predictable, I loved reading about the main character’s lives on the island, the town on the mainland and the characters who lived there. I especially enjoyed the wonderful descriptions of how lighthouses work, which obviously led me to daydreaming about living on a deserted island, with or without a lighthouse.

The Light Between Oceans wasn’t really for me, but I can see why so many people loved it.

Facing Unpleasant Facts by George Orwell

When I read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell I was extraordinarily impressed by the clarity of Orwell’s writing and the straightforward, take-it-or leave-it style of his writing voice. I was delighted to find the essays in Facing Unpleasant Facts to be equally as well written, thought-provoking and honest.

One of the qualities I most admire in writing is fearlessness, and Orwell writes what he is thinking and feeling despite knowing that his views will be unpopular in certain quarters. His honesty in certain essays was hard to read, such as in A Hanging, when the sound of the condemned Burmese man’s last prayers left Orwell and those around him wishing for the actual hanging to take place, to bring an end to the man’s prayers which the listeners couldn’t bear hearing. To think such a thing is deplorable but human, to say it is an example of the fearlessness in writing that I admire.

Shooting an Elephant was another extraordinarily frank account. When Orwell was working as a police officer in Burma an elephant went mad and although he could have left the animal peacefully grazing in a paddock after the initial rampage ended, he felt obligated to shoot the elephant dead because of the expectations of the large crowd of watching Burmese people who had become interested in the affair once he had called for a gun. The last sentence of this essay states that his only reason for shooting the elephant was to avoid looking like a fool in front of the watching crowd.

Orwell’s first sentence of every essay is stunning. Each hits the reader with a terrible truth (or an unpleasant fact) and leaves them wanting to know more. For example, Marrakech begins with:

As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later.

Or, from England Your England:

As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.

A great many of the essays are written around the time of World War Two. Orwell gave his opinion on a variety of topics, including saying that British and American soldiers couldn’t socialise with each other because the American soldiers were paid far more money than the British. In Revenge is Sour he described the incongruity of a former enemy of the Germans sharing his coffee with a German family soon after the end of the war. In Dear Doktor Goebbels – Your British Friends Are Feeding Fine! he wrote about rich people breaking the law to avoid food rationing. I found it interesting that although Orwell didn’t approve of their actions he wasn’t overtly scathing of the rule-breakers, instead using his matter-of-fact voice to describe how they managed to bypass the rules and eat well while poorer people made do with far less, leaving it up to the reader to decide if they disapprove or not.

Domestic matters were addressed in The Case for an Open Fire, where Orwell suggested that a fire was an unrivalled gathering point for a family and that functionalism was overrated, and In Defence of English Cooking he praised English cheeses, puddings, sauces and breads. A Nice Cup of Tea provided Orwell’s eleven outstanding points to be followed to make a perfect cup of tea.

The Moon Under Water described the most idyllic English pub imaginable, but brought the reader back to reality and to their own lack-lustre local with a thud.

I had been particularly looking forward to reading Why I Write and enjoyed it very much when I did. Orwell was very hard on his early writing which according to him contained too much ‘purple prose.’ His reasons for why writers write were interesting too and they included, egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historic impulse and political purpose. I believe my reasons fall into the ‘egoism’ category, although I tell myself that they are for historic purposes (so I can remember what I’ve already read as I grow older).

How the Poor Die was a gut wrenching essay to read. Hospitals and nursing have come a long, long way.

The book ended with Such, Such Were the Joys which told of Orwell’s time as a child at boarding school. St Cyprian’s was a cruel place, however I would have liked to have learn more about how (or if) the school’s teaching program influenced his writing.

The foreword by George Packer introduced Orwell as a master of essays and having read this collection, I couldn’t agree more.

Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

I bought Kokomo by Australian author Victoria Hannan despite the cover, which I didn’t like at all. After reading the story and discovering the main themes are unfulfilled wants and desires, I realised why this image and colour scheme were chosen, though and believe they suit the story.

Kokomo was told in two halves. The first half followed Mina, a hardworking copy editor living in London who was hopeful of receiving a much-deserved promotion at work. Mina was also on the brink of starting a love affair with her colleague Jack, when her best friend Kira phoned with the news that Mina’s mother, who had not left her home since the death of Mina’s father many years ago, had unexpectedly left her house in Melbourne.

Mina dropped everything to fly home to Melbourne but when she arrived, found her mother to be uncommunicative and resentful of Mina’s presence.

Mina attempted to reconnect with her old friends but apart from Kira, struggled as most had married and settled down into family life, living very different lives to hers.

Although Mina desperately wanted to be back in London at her job and with Jack, she fell back into the lifestyle she had left ten years ago, going out, getting drunk and making stupid choices about sex with people who she didn’t really want or like.

Her friendship with Kira seemed to be the truest relationship Mina had. Kira’s family and Mina’s were neighbours and they had supported Mina and her mother Elaine after Mina’s father death when Mina was just a teenager. Valerie, Kira’s mother, had continued to look after Elaine after Mina moved to London.

The second half of Kokomo told Elaine’s story and explained the closeness of the relationship between the two families. Elaine’s and Mina’s characters were unexpectedly similar in that their longings shaped their lives.

I found much of Mina and Elaine’s personal behaviour to be incomprehensible and somewhat unlikely, but appreciated the contemporary issues the story raised. These ranged from mental health issues to sexism in the workplace and dealing with toxic relationships, as well as portraying friendships, family relationships, in particular children learning that there is more to their parents than their relationships with their children.

In a warning to my fellow prudes, the first chapter nearly put me off reading the book completely since I had far less interest in the physical description of Jack’s penis than what Mina apparently had. If this level of detail isn’t to your taste either, my suggestion is to read the back cover then skip straight to Chapter Two.

I enjoyed the contemporary Melbourne setting and recognised many of the places Mina visited.

My purchase of Kokomo by Victoria Hannan continues to satisfy my New Year’s resolution for 2021 which is to buy a book by an Australian author during each month of this year (March).

Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills

I knew that I would be in for a fun read when I picked up Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills.

I know Hills best as the host of Spicks and Specks, an Australian music-themed television quiz show that ended some years ago. Spicks and Specks was on television for seven years and was a must-watch at the time, always funny and informative. The guest list was a ‘who’s who’ of music and comedy at the time and He Who Eats All of Our leftovers, Miss S and I still watch and enjoy the repeats.

Hills is also a very funny and successful comedian. Best Foot Forward tells the story of his family life, growing up in Sydney and enjoying The Two Ronnies, Peter Sellers and Mel Brooks, as well as other comedians from that generation. My first laugh came on the first page when Hills described the family car’s colour as ‘beige’ while his father swore it was ‘Sahara Tan’. This tickled me because our family has a car which I call ‘gold’ although the official name of the colour is ‘Koala Beige’. I also enjoyed reading about the Hills’ family trips to visit his grandparents in Tuross Head on the South Coast of NSW after spending time living nearby at around the same time Hills talked of being there.

While he was at university Hills realised he wanted to be a comedian and started doing stand-up comedy, honing his skills and landing a job hosting a radio program in Adelaide, which he eventually left after making the decision to give stand-up comedy a proper shot.

Hills spoke honestly about ‘dying’ on stage and playing to very small crowds, what he learned from each gig, and the work and constant crafting that went into making him a better performer as time went on. When Spicks and Specks came along Hills took the opportunity to host the show and when it ended, he went on the host The Last Leg, a comedy sports show which originally followed the Paralympics in 2012. Hill says he got so caught up in the thrill and emotion of the competitions that he seriously considered taking up wheelchair basketball (he has a prosthetic leg) but was put off by the idea of needing to learn to use a wheelchair. I believe The Last Leg is still on television in the UK but has morphed into a talk show.

The last time I saw Hills on Australian television was during a cross to him while he was enjoying an unexpected day at an Australian beach as a result of his plane to the UK being delayed. He joked then that no one at the beach seemed fazed by him hopping out of the water because he was missing a leg! This reminded me of a story about Miss S when she was little. We had met a friend of a friend who was on crutches after having his leg amputated and Miss S wanted to know if a shark had got him!

Being a comedian, the book is filled with stories of his encounters, gigs and friendships with other comedians from Australia and the rest of the world which makes the book read like a ‘who’s who of comedy.’ I have seen some of these comedians perform and enjoyed these stories very much. Hills also described his first and subsequent encounters with his own idol, Billy Connolly, whose generosity of spirit shone through Hill’s storytelling.

Hills also has a similar kindness and positivity about him and while I haven’t watched The Last Leg I imagine the show brings joy to viewers.

White Fang by Jack London

I added White Fang by Jack London to my list of Classics Club books without any idea of what the story would be about. If I’d had to guess, I would have said it was a coming of age story about a boy and his dog, which turned out to be so far from the actual plot as to be laughable.

White Fang is the story of a ferocious wild wolfdog (half wolf, half dog) living in the Yukon Territory of Canada. The story began with two men returning a coffined corpse to civilisation using dog sleds, who are being tracked by a pack of starving wolves. Each night the dogs were being picked off one by one by the wolves, until the terrified men were themselves in mortal danger.

The story then moved to follow Kiche, a female dog who had been running with the wolves and was responsible for luring the sled dogs to their deaths. After the wolf pack’s famine was broken when they killed a moose, the pack broke apart and Kiche ran with two male wolves until the older wolf, One-Eye, killed his younger rival. In due course Kiche had a litter of wolfdog pups, of which White Fang was the only survivor. As a puppy White Fang explored his world, made his first kill for food and was learning how to protect himself from danger when he and Kiche stumbled into a camp of Native Americans.

Grey Beaver recognised Kiche as having formerly belonged to his dead brother and claimed her and White Fang for his own. White Fang wanted to return to the wild but Kiche settled in to camp life and eventually the two were separated.

White Fang’s life in the camp was hard as he was tormented by the other dogs and treated brutally by Grey Beaver, so he grew up to be a savage, angry animal who was used by his master as a fighting dog. Grey Beaver eventually sold White Fang to an even worse master, ‘Beauty’ Smith, who pitted White Fang in fights against other dogs, wolves and even a lynx.

White Fang was on the brink of losing his life in a fight against a bulldog when a young man happened across the dog fight and saved White Fang from death, calling out Beauty Smith and the crowd for their beastly behaviour. White Fang then became Weedon Scott’s dog, learning to trust and love him. Eventually White Fang left the Yukon to live in Weedon Scott’s family home in California where he learned to live peacefully with other dogs, animals and people.

Up until the young man happened across the dog fight, there was little morality in the story. White Fang’s world was harsh and only the strongest and most brutal animals survived. Animals who weren’t eating other animals were being eaten themselves. The author made it clear that the wolves and wolfdogs had no sense of right or wrong, and that particularly in the wild, their only purpose was to eat and survive.

White Fang recognised humans in the story as ‘Gods’ but even then he noted that the Gods’ powers varied, sometimes as a result of their race. He also recognised that there were ‘Laws’, but only because the Gods would hurt him if he didn’t obey these Laws.

As already mentioned, when I started to read White Fang I had expected a very different book and when I realised this was the animal’s own story, I expected White Fang to think and speak and moralise like a human would, but other than feeling certain emotions which were generally angry and unhappy, White Fang retained a wildness throughout his reasoning that was fascinating.

I was also surprised that although I found much of the human and animal behaviour to be abhorrent, from the cruelty shown to White Fang by Grey Beaver and the other dogs to the graphic descriptions of the dog fights, I never felt sickened or as if the events were being sensationalised for the reader’s titillation, instead I felt engaged by the story and enjoyed this unusual look at a world and environment which I know nothing about.

I did have major reservations about the plotline of Weedon Scott bringing a vicious wolfdog who often bit people and killed other animals into his home, and especially of him trusting White Fang with his own small children. I’ve been bitten by dogs twice, once in a public space by a stranger’s pit bull terrier, which are a banned dog breed in Australia and another time in a residential street by a part dog, part dingo which had escaped it’s owner’s yard. On both occasions I hadn’t even been aware of the dog’s presence until after I was bitten. To be brutally honest, if I had owned White Fang, I would put the animal down rather than have risk my child’s safety.

I struggled to find a cover picture for this book that suited the ferociousness of White Fang as most of the covers showed wolfdogs that looked as if they would be happy to be hugged when White Fang’s temperament was the exact opposite.

White Fang was book twenty six in my Classics Club challenge to read 50 classics before my challenge end date of August 26, 2023. The Call of the Wild is on my list too and I will probably read this next.

What to Read and Why by Francine Prose

I hoped for recommendations for ‘good’ books from What to Read and Why by Francine Prose but I gained much more than that.

The essays in this collection hone in on what Prose believes makes certain authors, artists or works to be great. In one section, she focused on what makes particular sentences great. Usually, this is clarity.

While I enjoyed the entire book, I found the chapters where I knew the book being discussed to be more interesting and inspiring than those I didn’t know. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein was a terrific example. The essay started with an explanation of why Frankenstein was written and a description of Shelley’s fascinating childhood and life, then discussed the story’s genre, showed how the author avoided ‘plot holes’ by telling the reader that she wasn’t going to tell them certain things for their own safety, and ended by pointing out that the monster was used as a device to examine horrific human behaviour. I’m busting to reread Frankenstein with my new-found insight.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations was another chapter that I particularly appreciated because I had recently read this book for myself. Prose marveled at how prolific Dickens’ was, at his skill in holding in connecting every single scene in the book with the entire story and drew attention to the novel teaching readers about the difficulty of improving themselves because of personal attachments to their own faults. I was delighted by Prose’s description of Great Expectations as “fun, it’s got an engaging plot, it’s smart and beautifully written.”

The Jane Austen chapter was preaching to the converted. George Eliot, Middlemarch would also have convinced me to add this book to my next Classic Club list had the book not already been on it, along with the Kafka essay.

I was surprised to find two essays discussing the works of photographers, Helen Levitt’s Crosstown and Diane Arbus’ Revelations, but was intrigued by both and searched out works by both artists.

Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle is an intriguing look at six (!) autobiographical novels written by a Norwegian writer. I can’t decide whether to read these or not. While these books sound fascinating, I get the feeling that reading them might be too voyeuristic, like reading someone’s diary.

I’m also now on the lookout for anything by Mavis Gallant and Patrick Hamilton, Roberto Bolano’s 2666 and Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, but despite explaining what makes Lolita a great novel, Prose couldn’t convince me to re-read this book even if it came with a life-time supply of chocolate.

A chapter titled On Clarity seemed to be speaking directly to me. All I can say is that I try.

I can’t finish this review without commenting on the author’s surname, Prose. What else could this author have been but a writer? There was an impressively long list of non-fiction and fiction books written by Prose on an inside front page and perhaps not surprisingly, I have added her name to my list of authors to seek out.

When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall

I’ve read several books by Clare Morrall with clever and interesting plots, so was pleased to find a copy of When the Floods Came.

The story is set in Birmingham in England sometime in the near future, however the future has not turned out to be as we would hope. Climate change has caused the weather to swing violently with England experiencing torrential rain and devastating floods. To further complicate life, twenty years before the story began a virus called Hoffman’s wiped out most of the population and left most survivors infertile.

The main character is twenty-two year old Roza Polanski, who with her family, lived on their own in a housing tower complex which previously housed thousands of people. The Polanski family consisted of Roza’ mother and father, her brother Boris, sister Delphine and adopted little sister Lucia, who was found alone after her parents seemingly died in a flood several years before the story began. The Polanski family rarely met anyone else in person, but Roza and Boris worked online for the Chinese (it wasn’t clear what their work actually was) and all of the older children had strong online social connections. When the story began, Roza was preparing to meet Hector, a man from Brighton whom she had met online and planned to marry. Most of England’s population lived in Brighton as it was the only place in England that had been made flood-proof.

I was fascinated to read how Roza’s family used items foraged from other apartments for their own needs, had chickens and a goat living on the tower’s roof and harvested vegetables from nearby farms which were run by machines. Several times a year they received food and other items from drone drops from the Americans. Roza’s father was particularly handy and spent much of his time creating art and repairing the machinery which maintained their lives throughout the cycles of intense heat, cold, rain and floods.

During a family game where the Polanski’s raced through the entire housing tower they were shocked to find a young man living in an apartment. Although Aashay hadn’t been there long the Polanski family felt frightened and angry because they hadn’t been aware of his presence, and they were horrified to learn he had been watching them and knew a lot about them. Despite Aashay’s charm, Roza and her family were suspicious of his intentions towards them. Most people who had survived Hoffman’s lived in Brighton under strict government rules, but it was clear that Aashay lived outside of the rules. While the Polanski’s were also living outside of Brighton it was because the government were allowing them this freedom, with the understanding that when the children turned twenty-five they would move to Brighton where they would marry and have children to ensure the continuation of the human race.

Roza’s family had been quarantined and forbidden from visiting nearby Birmingham or anywhere else since Hoffman’s had struck twenty years previously, but despite these places having been being abandoned and destroyed they still weren’t allowed to visit them, however soon after Aashay’s arrival Roza surreptitiously travelled to Birmingham to visit the Museum and Art Gallery where she discovered Sir Jacob Epstein’s statue of Lucifer in the water damaged building.

At this point, I stopped reading and went online to see Lucifer and the round, domed gallery for myself. By this point the story was so real to me that I felt relieved to see that the gallery and art works were undamaged.

Aashay told the Polanski’s about an upcoming fair in a town nearby they were amazed to learn that so many other people lived outside Brighton, and they decided to attend. On arrival they felt overwhelmed by the vast crowd of approximately 100 people and found the noise they made to be deafening. The children received such an inordinate amount of attention that the family were terrified someone would kidnap Lucia to fulfil a yearning for a child of their own.

When the Floods Came had a Garden of Eden-type of plot, in that the story began with an innocent family living in paradise before the arrival of the serpent and an ending featuring the changes which came with knowledge. I enjoyed the story enormously but felt let down by the ending which felt unresolved. I was also left wondering what was happening in the rest of the world. I had the same problem with The Roundabout Man in that I loved the idea and the plot but ultimately wanted more from the story and the ending.

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