Kudos to the author for trying this style of writing. I liked the alternative universes where different things happened according to her behaviour at the crucial moment. How long did she hesitate? Did she try to help or not? And what did say when asked? So truly two books in one which can be tricky to both write and read as you need to keep two plots in your head at the same time. And actually London doesn’t get smog any more - only heavy pollution on a still summer day unless it comes across the channel - or sometimes we Saharan sand... The last know smog was in 2016 in December and was caused by pollution, to get black feet - and I well remember getting them myself, in my hippy phase, when I walked London streets barefoot (!), you need coal or wood fires, which have been banned for a very long time. However, that very picky point aside, I liked this book.
I was not sure what to make of this book and the stories told within it.
Somehow the stories were about times too recent for such mythology.
And I was worried bout in-breeding in the village as it was such a cut-off community.
it seemed to me that the countryside described was more like Cornwall or deep Somerset than the Pennines, or even the Lake District – but maybe the Borders? Certainly the Norse raiders got there..
So whilst worrying about all these, perhaps irrelevant items, I lost the plot. Literally and failed to finish the book.
I loved this book and read it and read it and read it. So much happened and the writing style engaged me and encouraged me to just keep on reading.
I am not normally a fan of Irish family dramas, but this was different and a grand exception.
This is a very modern mixed-up family. the children from many marriages and even one not ‘belonging’ to them. All provided for in a rather ramshackle way by Clare and then with her husband helping out – but not her previous husband at all… or the parents of the ‘not theirs’ child.
I am not sure how i would have coped with all her responsibilities. flying to and fro London and Ireland. running a commission based business with 2 lovely partners but still effectively self-employed. and not earning that much after expenses – which are high in the PR world. still establishing a business name, still trying to manage her wayward clients, still trying to help her girls through school and exams and business start-ups. and then there is her father with Alzheimer’s and her mother wanting help.
I am surprised she doesn’t have a complete break-down. but maybe she does? Maybe her behaviour is a breakdown of sorts – and who can blame her?
All we can be sure of, as we read this story, as it weaves through the times and places, is that the central character acquires and uses different identities in the way that you and I change our underwear.
She says she is young, but when did her wanderings really start? At what age?
The stories that she tells appear incompatible and they change – she admits – according to her audience.
So who is the true person? And what is her true story you are left guessing until the final chapter.
An interesting way of telling this story that initially seems confusing but once you get into your stride is quite revealing.
Loved the way the story moved between the two women in different times, but who were, in the end, linked by the same house.
I had – sort of – known that the winter in the UK in 1947 was bad, but not quite as bad as was shown in this novel.
It must have been dreadful to experience when the UK had not yet recovered from WW2 and there were still shortages of basic foods and heating materials – the coal had frozen in the mines and the drifts were too high for the miners to get to work or coal to be transported.
An anti-cyclone sat over Scandinavia and there were 6 weeks of snow falling – 55 days in total. The temperature dropped to -21C in Bedfordshire and this was before people had thermal underwear and outdoor clothing that was suitable for this type of weather.
Newspapers were cut to 4 pages.
There were no electric fires (the main alternative to coal in most houses) between 9-12am and 2-4pm.
And no afternoon Greyhound Racing!
Over 20,000 acres of corn was destroyed by the cold.
That said, I personally experienced the winter of 1963 as a schoolgirl in the days before 1. Tights, and 2. Trousers were permitted to be worn.
I walked to school.
3.5 miles each way.
I thought my knees would never stop chapping and warm up!