Total Stars out of 5: 2 Stars
Review by Reading Club member.
Having staggered through to the end of this book I thought that it was an extremely long-winded way of telling a very short story.
A rather naïve teenage girl is seriously manipulated by a deceased uncle into caring for his sick partner, who is similarly manipulated into caring for his late lover’s favourite niece. End of….
The background is unusual, being set in the 1980’s, when Aids was a full-on media subject, but what are we supposed to do about it? Are we supposed to reflection how far we’ve come since then both in medicine and in social attitudes? If so, Brunt doesn’t make a very convincing case and anyway, do we really want to go over all that again? It was a particularly unpleasant time and hopefully, we’ve lost our prejudices and have become more liberal without having to resort to fiction.
The best bits of the book are psychological studies of the two teenage girls, June the favoured niece and Greta the waspish elder sister. Devoid of parental interaction – both parents are both heavily engaged in the ‘tax season’ – they have more freedom that they can handle and the emotional ups and downs of June’s relationship with Toby, Uncle Finn’s dying partner, and Greta’s bitchiness towards her younger sister are long drawn out and irritating.
Both girls are believable characters however, and the reader does become anxious for the well-being of both of them as June descends into emotional confusion and Greta hits the bottle.
In fact the last few chapters really are the most interesting part, and spur the reader on to complete what is otherwise a tedious narrative.
I like reading circle books with discussion points at the end, but in this case the topics on page 370-1 are largely hypothetical. The three I really agree with are 3, 6 and 8. Finn was a psychological blackmailers, a manipulative user of both June and Toby.
All in the name of love? I really don’t think so.