Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

While the Smarts are a happy, prosperous British family on the surface, underneath they are as friable as a Balkan republic. Eve suffers from a block about writing yet another of her popular Genuine Article books (a series of imaginary reconstructions of obscure, actual figures from the past). Michael, her English professor husband, is a philanderer whose sexual predation on his students has reached critical mass. Teenaged Magnus, Eve's son by first husband Adam, is consumed by guilt around a particularly heinous school prank. And Astrid, Eve and Adam's daughter, is a 12-year- old channeling the angst of a girl three years older. Into this family drops one Amber MacDonald, a mysterious stranger who embeds herself in the family's summer rental in Norfolk and puts them all under her bullying spell. By some collective hallucination-one into which Smith (Hotel World) utterly and completely draws the reader-each Smart sees Amber as a savior, even as she violates their codes and instincts. So sure-handed are Smith's overlapping descriptions of the same events from different viewpoints that her simple, disquieting story lifts into brilliance. When Eve finally breaks the spell and kicks Amber out, it precipitates a series of long overdue jolts that destroys the family's fraught equilibrium, but the shock of Smith's facility remains. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Amber looks so innocent when she arrives barefoot at the Norfolk summer cottage of Eve Smart and her family, but her presence causes major disruption-even after she's sent packing. With a six-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

British novelist and Booker Prize nominee Smith ( Hotel World, 2001) renders acrobatic prose that seems in a perpetual state of acceleration. At the opening of her mesmerizing new novel, a barefoot, thirtysomething stranger named Amber abandons her broken-down car and arrives at the doorstep of Eve and Michael Smart, who are summering in Norfolk, England, with Eve's children, 12-year-old Astrid and 17-year-old Magnus. Amber stays for dinner and quickly weaves her way into the Smarts' lives, befriending impressionable Astrid; seducing math-whiz Magnus (guilt-ridden over his unwitting role in the suicide of a fellow student); enchanting their haughty, adulterous stepfather, Michael; and swiftly sizing up their mother, Eve, a writer conflicted over the success of her hack novels. The novel is alternately narrated by each member of the Smart family, but it is candid Astrid who steals the show, wandering through town with digital camera in hand. Some readers may be frustrated by the transparency of Amber, who serves as little more than a catalyst, prompting dramatic changes in the lives of her accidental hosts. --Allison Block Copyright 2005 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

While the Smarts are a happy, prosperous British family on the surface, underneath they are as friable as a Balkan republic. Eve suffers from a block about writing yet another of her popular Genuine Article books (a series of imaginary reconstructions of obscure, actual figures from the past). Michael, her English professor husband, is a philanderer whose sexual predation on his students has reached critical mass. Teenaged Magnus, Eve's son by first husband Adam, is consumed by guilt around a particularly heinous school prank. And Astrid, Eve and Adam's daughter, is a 12-year- old channeling the angst of a girl three years older. Into this family drops one Amber MacDonald, a mysterious stranger who embeds herself in the family's summer rental in Norfolk and puts them all under her bullying spell. By some collective hallucination-one into which Smith (Hotel World) utterly and completely draws the reader-each Smart sees Amber as a savior, even as she violates their codes and instincts. So sure-handed are Smith's overlapping descriptions of the same events from different viewpoints that her simple, disquieting story lifts into brilliance. When Eve finally breaks the spell and kicks Amber out, it precipitates a series of long overdue jolts that destroys the family's fraught equilibrium, but the shock of Smith's facility remains. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Amber looks so innocent when she arrives barefoot at the Norfolk summer cottage of Eve Smart and her family, but her presence causes major disruption-even after she's sent packing. With a six-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

British novelist and Booker Prize nominee Smith ( Hotel World, 2001) renders acrobatic prose that seems in a perpetual state of acceleration. At the opening of her mesmerizing new novel, a barefoot, thirtysomething stranger named Amber abandons her broken-down car and arrives at the doorstep of Eve and Michael Smart, who are summering in Norfolk, England, with Eve's children, 12-year-old Astrid and 17-year-old Magnus. Amber stays for dinner and quickly weaves her way into the Smarts' lives, befriending impressionable Astrid; seducing math-whiz Magnus (guilt-ridden over his unwitting role in the suicide of a fellow student); enchanting their haughty, adulterous stepfather, Michael; and swiftly sizing up their mother, Eve, a writer conflicted over the success of her hack novels. The novel is alternately narrated by each member of the Smart family, but it is candid Astrid who steals the show, wandering through town with digital camera in hand. Some readers may be frustrated by the transparency of Amber, who serves as little more than a catalyst, prompting dramatic changes in the lives of her accidental hosts. --Allison Block Copyright 2005 Booklist