This is a book you need to be able to pick up and read in large chunks.
It’s also one that is easily spoiled by saying too much and spilling the beans unwittingly to someone who is just embarking upon it, which is a shame because lack of knowledge about the plot enables one of those rare ‘hang on, did I just read that correctly, let me go back and check’ moments, to be savoured…
So if by any chance you know very little about the premise to this novel, don’t go looking for trouble and reading around it too much (and definitely don’t take a peek at The Guardian review until you have finished, or all will be lost!) – just launch straight in.
Karen Joy Fowler has a very engaging style, and the flipping around of the time span is worked so brilliantly that this is a book you can become completely immersed in. The narrative begins towards the end and then loops back to the beginning – not just once, but twice. A contender for the ‘Man Booker Prize’, this work reached the shortlist, but was pipped to the post by Richard Flanagan and “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”, and it has been on the best selling lists for long enough to mean that that element of surprise is probably sadly now long lost. If that’s the case, or if you have already read the novel, you may be interested in the Q&A that appears on the author’s website about how the book came to be, and which talks of her own childhood link to the story. And if you haven’t read it and enjoy a story with a twist or two, I think you will enjoy this one.
Read in December 2014.
Rating : 10/10
Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2015, Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction