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"Driven and Passionate, she stirs a pot spiced with incest, wife-beating .... and murder"
The Sunday Times.
When I read this book which is the second I have read from this author, I suppose that I thought she may have improved upon her writing and that perhaps she developed her discriptive abilities. There do seem to be an awful lot of books written by this lady, and perhaps I had judged her harshly on the first read.
The story revolves around a young lass called Nell, in the 1890's, who is maid that becomes pregnant and leaves home in order to find her future, away from the shame that she is accused of causing to her Aunt, and encouraged to do so by her father. Along the way, Nell meets a youngster who is orphaned, and who is to play a part in that future, by the name of Kit. Where the story goes is for the reader to find out, though this gives a basic outline.
It could have been a good story. It could have been well thought out, planned and executed, though wasn't.
One of the most irritating habits that this writer seems to have is that her descriptions of characters are surface ones with little depth, and an obsession for eye colours. For me, what lies behind those eyes is far more important. I like detail, and as a reader, thrive on it. I like stories that take the imagination on a journey of discovery, and this book failed miserably. One of the things that I did discover was that the author had a constant need to use sub-plots, little stories that pad out the real story, almost as if she was unsure of where the story was going. I don't like sub-plots unless they play a role in the overall quality and substance of a book, and these didn't, petering out like insignificant moments, passed in the self indulgence of writing, rather than trying to pull a whole story together.
The characters that made the story were weak at best. Even the heroine of the story was never described sufficiently for me to picture who she was. Strong, ardent and stubborn are good descriptions for the picture that she painted, though reason lacked and background that makes a picture complete. Even Danielle Steel's characters, although always beautiful, have depth, whilst Cox's characters are almost like matchstick men put on the canvas in order to fill it, rather than to give the picture substance.
Throughout the book, there were constant contradictions and events which would not have been tackled by the personalities in the manner described, had they been true to the characters as first drawn up. Even the character of the child and the link he had to Nell within the story were so weak that you wondered when the writer was going to actually tell the story, instead of going off in different directions that lead nowhere.
I am extremely disappointed at how glibly a murder was dealt with, having absolutely no demonstrated effect upon the characters that the event supposedly touched. It was like trying to find the missing stitches on a tapestry, and indeed finding many errors in judgement on the part of the writer who produced this book in 1997 for what I can only imagine to be a mindless minority of readers that don't mind if a story doesn't make sense.
This must be the worst book that I have ever read, and certainly, Amazon would be pushed to sell it even second hand at the pricely sum of 0.01p for the 434 pages of badly printed and presented drivel. At the new price of 5.59 GBP plus postage, I would avoid it like the plague, and stick to writers that know the art of weaving a believeable tale.
Paperback: 434 pages
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing Ltd (7 Aug 1997)
Also available in audio cassette form, and hardback, though my advice would be to avoid it.