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‘The Distance Between Us’ and ‘My Lover’s Lover’ – Maggie O’Farrell

I’ve been having a bit of a Maggie O’Farrell festival.

Here is the blurb for The Distance Between Us

Stella has fled London to confront the childhood secret which has marked her life. A set of tragic circumstances and a hasty marriage bring Jake from Hong Kong to Britain, where he embarks upon a quest for the father he never knew. When Jake and Stella meet, both of their lives are changed forever.

I didn’t like this novel as much as The Hand that First Held Mine or After You’d Gone, but more than My Lover’s Lover. Stella has a secret and it seems to involve a red-haired man with a Scottish accent (all sorts of ideas run through your mine, but I never guessed the truth). She is very close to her sister Nina (too close I think). Stella runs away from a job in London to a menial job in a hotel in country Scotland. Jake, while searching for his father, turns up at the same hotel. This story has all of the features of an O’Farrell novel; different view points, a mystery, shifting time, etc.

Here are some other reviews …

http://sophiasbookblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/distance-between-us-by-maggie-o-farrell.html

Reading Guide at Maggie O’Farrell’s website

Here is the blurb for My Lover’s Lover

When Lily meets Marcus at a gallery opening in London, she is immediately attracted to him. In less than a week, she falls deeply in love with the magnetic but elusive architect and moves into his echoing loft apartment in East London.

Nothing could have prepared Lily for what she finds there. A distinct presence of another woman lingers in the loft, one who seems to have disappeared in a hurry, leaving behind a single party dress hanging in the closet, a puzzling mark on the wall, and the suffocating scent of jasmine. Lily’s unsettling curiosity turns to obsession as the spirit of this mysterious woman increasingly haunts her.

Who was she? What were the circumstances of her sudden disappearance? Marcus refuses to talk about the woman or her fate. The apartment’s other inhabitant, Aidan, seems to understand Lily’s concern, but he is also unwilling to give her any information.

This would have to be my least favourite novel. I didn’t like Lily or Marcus and there wasn’t much of Aiden (who I did like). The ghost sections were fabulous, but Lily just seemed creepy and/or mad. I could see what O’Farrell was trying to do (can’t tell you otherwise it will ruin the story), but I just didn’t like it.

Here are some other reviews…

http://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.com/2008/02/my-lovers-lover.html

http://acaseforbooks.blogspot.com/2011/05/21-my-lovers-lover-by-maggie-ofarrell.html

 

 

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After You’d Gone – Maggie O’Farrell

As I loved The Hand That First Held Mine (read about that here), I had to read more of her work. I wasn’t disappointed.

Here is the blurb …

“When Alice Raike’s sisters come to pick her up at the train station, they find her wild-eyed, confused, and insistent on returning to London that very minute. Only a few hours later, they receive terrible news – Alice is lying in a coma after an accident that may or may not have been a suicide attempt. While her life hangs in the balance, Alice’s family gathers at her bedside. As they wait, argue, and remember, long-buried tensions rise to the surface. Alice, meanwhile, sliding between different levels of consciousness, recalls her past and the end of a tragic love affair…

This is classic O’Farrell – different narrative view points, jumping around in time and suspense (exactly what did Alice see in the bathroom?) I can’t write about the plot without giving the story away, I’ll just say that the Raikes family has issues, but by O’Farrell switching viewpoints we have sympathy for all of the characters (even, I’m surprised to say, Alice’s mother Ann). O’Farrell’s ability to write the inner thoughts and motivations of her characters is uncanny. There is no black and white, good or bad, just many shades of grey. Your sympathies alter with the narrative – I was constantly revising my opinion about Ann. If you like character driven novels, then you will enjoy O’Farrell’s novels.

More reviews …

http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2011/01/after-youd-gone-maggie-ofarrell.html

http://bookcloset.blogspot.com/2010/11/after-youd-gone-by-maggie-ofarrell.html

http://jennysbooks.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/review-after-youd-gone-maggie-ofarrell/

 

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