Reviews

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

Lexie Sinclair moves from the Cornwall area to post-World War II London and begins a thrilling new life under the tutelage of her lover, Innes Kent, an editor and art collector. Even the eventual knowledge that he is legally married doesn't alter her allegiance to him, and she becomes the mother of his son, as well as a respected art critic. In between chapters about Lexie and Innes, readers meet contemporary London artist Elina, who lives with her boyfriend Ted. They have just had a son together, and Elina, who almost died in childbirth, is housebound during her recovery. Growing into his new role as a father, Ted suffers confusing flashbacks about his own childhood. Gradually, a trail of connection between these two nontraditional families is revealed. Devious acts have been committed, darkly affecting these innocent, decent, and well-developed characters. Verdict O'Farrell brings to mind Sue Miller but with a British and darker flavor; her sure hand for psychological suspense (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox) continues to be most impressive. [ALA Midwinter promotion.]-Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P.L., Houston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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

O'Farrell (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox) interweaves two seemingly unconnected stories-that of Lexie Sinclair, living in post-WWII London, and Elina Vilkuna, a denizen of present-day London. Lexie is a rebellious 21-year-old, and when she meets handsome and sophisticated Innes Kent, she realizes he's the one who can help her find the adventure and excitement she craves. Their affair coincides with her moving up in the ranks at the magazine he edits, but a tragedy changes Lexie's life forever. Fifty-odd years later, Elina, a painter, faces her own struggles: she recently had a son with her boyfriend, Ted, and, after a rough child-birth, Ted and Elina struggle to recalibrate their relationship as it evolves into parenthood. While O'Farrell brings Lexie to life, she does not achieve the same with Elina and Ted, who come across as just another bland couple facing the challenges of having a child. The two plots are, naturally, connected, but the contemporary plot doesn't really get moving until too late in the book. If the contemporary storyline was developed half as well as the historical plot, this would be a wonderful book. As it is, it feels lighter than it should. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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

Lexi and Elina are separated by time. The former is a young ingenue of late 1950s London, and the latter, a young mother in the present. From the outset, readers are told Lexi will die young. Every joyous occasion she experiences (meeting the love of her life, becoming an art critic, and, later, having a son) is tempered by the dread of her oncoming demise. Her incredible luck finally runs dry in a tragedy worthy of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. Elina's tale, the lesser of the two, focuses on her nuclear family Ted, her boyfriend, and their newborn son. Ted's fears about losing Elina after she almost died giving birth trigger repressed memories, which finally draw the two narratives together. O'Farrell (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, 2007) is cinematic in her approach, utilizing close-ups, fast-forwards, and rewinds to move the story along at a good clip. Here, the timeless wrestling of motherhood and identity are expertly explored with compassion and heartrending accuracy.--Jones, Courtney Copyright 2010 Booklist