This isn’t a new book (it was published in 1991) but I’ve had a first edition hardback sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years and thought it was about time I opened it up. Barnes is as talented a writer as I remembered, but the story itself didn’t grab me. It’s a love triangle, but that’s not really the point: Barnes writes to play with language and themes, to demonstrate mastery of a variety of voices, and to critique society through dry humour. He achieves all of this, and I stuck with the book long enough to be enchanted. That said, I didn’t relate to or particularly like any of the characters (and frequently wanted to punch Oliver) and it took me a lot longer to read than most of what I’ve been choosing lately.
NB: This is Brenda Baker’s debut novel, published just before she and I “met” online and became friends and critique partners.
It’s a decent effort, probably a 3.5-star work, and a quick read. I found the core family of Lauren and her parents very deftly drawn and it was refreshing to find a book that considered the “other” side of eating disorders, i.e. compulsive overeating and binge eating. I’m not usually a reader of “Christian” books, but I didn’t find this overly preachy or moralistic. Many of the minor characters were used to introduce other important issues, but unfortunately these weren’t explored in any detail and the story ended without telling us what happened to them. Likewise the love subplot: what was there was good, but it’s what was missing that pulled the book down.