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Had I reviewed this book when I had first finished it, it would tell of disappointment and frustration. Frustration that none of the story lines in the book end how you want or think. Every time you felt you were on top, or wished for something, the book would just do the total opposite. So, when I finished the book, I was annoyed.
Given a while, I realised how fond I was of it and how brilliant it truly was. It wasn't a fairy tale ending like so many books, neither was it predictably morose. It was interesting, gripping and kept me on my toes! I got over my petulance at it not turning out how I'd hoped and realised how much I liked it. It's the first book that's ever made me feel this way!
It was very well read but I found her accent for Odell a little one-mood (she sounded excited at almost everything she said!) but nothing too major.
I've enjoyed both of Jessie Burton's books- both totally worth it!!
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I was underwhelmed by Jessie Burton's first, hugely successful novel,The Miniaturist. So I approached this book with a certain degree of caution. But I was totally won over by this cleverly concocted tale of love and loss, identity and deception, the intrinsic and monetary value of art and the power of grief,set in two separate time periods.
Odelle Bastien finds herself in her dream job, working at a London art gallery by day and writing stories in her spare time. She meets her mysterious employer, Marjorie Quick, and soon becomes the older woman's protégée. And confidante.
When Odelle's boyfriend Laurie brings a painting owned by his late mother to the gallery for evaluation, Marjorie reacts curiously and refuses to engage with other staff about it. But she starts demanding information about the painting's provenance, Laurie's connections to the artist and how his mother came to be in possession of it. Marjorie reveals to Odelle that she has a terminal illness and so begins a quest for the truth and a race against time for Odelle to discover just who Marjorie and Laurie really are and the extent of their connection to each other and the painting.
This is a compelling story, beautifully plotted and skilfully constructed with fabulous period detail of life in 1930s Spain during the tumultuous and dangerous time of the Spanish Civil War. It also evokes a believable portrayal of life in 1960s London when immigration from the Caribbean islands first started to become prevalent. The experiences of Odelle and her friends from Trinidad and the prejudices they faced at work and in everyday life are set out in an easy-to-read but hard-to-forget way.
This is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels;it can be taken as a good yarn, well told or, as I think it should be, as a tale with dark, deeper meaning; a lesson to us all on prejudice and its consequences. It will stay with me for a long time and I think I will probably read it again. Very glad I tried it.
The narration is good, particularly the sections involving Odelle's voice. Some more variety in the tone of voice would have been nice but it did not spoil my overall appreciation of the book.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful