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Wow--sounds like a challenging but worthwhile read. Sometimes books like this really stay with you and you find yourself thinking about them months, even years later. It does help to have a group to discuss the difficult ones with, as well.


My cover looks so different. I bought this after having read a list somewhere on which Shirley Hazzard was mentioned as being fantastic but not sufficiently known. The way the person described it did not make it sound like a challenging read but later I read another review that pointed in the same direction as your review. I'm still interested in reading it but will wait until I have a few days off.


It's interesting to read your thoughts on this as I think it is on the VMC list. I now feel quite intimidated.


Lovely review, Danielle - I can see our experiences were very similar.There were parts I loved and parts that frustrated me. I really thought the language was rich and beautiful, but it's like eating heavy fruit cake. There's really only so long before it starts to weigh heavily on you, even though it's delicious!


I like how you describe her prose as elliptical. I think you understood more of the book than you give yourself credit for!


I gave a little gasp of delight when I opened up your page and saw you had read this. I had a very similar experience to you when I read it, didn't understand half of it, nearly gave up but am also so pleased I didn't - Totally agree that it was a mental workout. Overall though i think (!) it was amazing.


Kathy--I think this will indeed stay with me for some time. I'm glad I stuck it out--I think I sometimes give up too easily on books.
Caroline--I love the cover Litlove showed on her blog--very nicely done. It seems I've heard that as well--that it's too bad not more people know about her. I think this is one that works better if you can devote solid reading time to it. I think a better reader than me might not have struggled with it--but I'm not always used to reading books with such dense prose--it took a while for me to get used to it.
Verity--I hope I've not scared you or anyone else off. I think a careful reader would have not many problems and if there was some confusion there are reviews online that I think would clarify things. You're very well read, so I am sure you would have no problems! I'm curious what the Virago cover design is and who wrote the intro! I would love to hear what you think of it when you get to it!
Litlove--Yes. I did better reading in chunks, but even then it seemed I could only manage about 25 pages at a time. There was a lot to admire here and it was well worth the time and effort. But I found it to be challenging at times, too!
Stefanie--Susan and I were talking about it and she used that term. I had to look it up and it fit perfectly--then several more people used it so it seemed the best way to describe it. I think I understood more than I thought, but I have to admit to having help along the way--chatting with a few other people about it helped me stay on track or I might otherwise have been completely lost. I also read a really interesting essay by Sven Birkerts when I finished that help shed light on things.
Tracey--It sounds like it's not the easiest book to read, but I was glad I did it. I had no idea what to expect when I started it--being totally unfamiliar with her work. I think I might have stopped midway had I been on my own, but I am so glad I stuck it out. I think I appreciate it more now in thinking about it and may have to read it again someday and see if it is clearer the second time around. Yes, it was very amazing!

Dorothy W.

She only wrote four novels! That's not very many at all. Yes, I can see why, since as you say, the language is so rich. I, too, got a little exasperated about 3/4 of the way through when things seemed to drag, but fortunately they really did pick up. I'm very glad to have read this as well.


Dorothy--I had a feeling when I started that it was going to be a bit more challenging than I'm usually used to, but I was so drawn into the story. After she started straying away from Caroline's story it, my interest waned a little bit, but those last 50 pages completely drew me back in again. I wonder if her other books are written in a similar style.

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