This is the debut novel from Ms O'Farrell and I am stunned. It's not so much the story. That's fairly predictable.
Spoiler Alert! (Skip the next paragraph is you are going to read book)
Woman doesn't feel part of her family as a girl. Fights with mother as a teenager. Finally falls in love as a woman. Husband dies tragically. Woman mysteriously ends up in coma. Woman comes back from coma after estranged father-in-law appears at bedside.
So, it all seems like it would be sappy and syrupy. But it's not. What makes this book so extraordinary is the way the story is constructed. The author jumps back and forth across time and location but you never feel lost. I never once lost my place or struggled to figure out where I was.
I am hoping for more from this author. I hope as she finds her feet she writes with more depth. I want to know her characters more. Other than the Alice and her grieving I never quite understood the motivation of any of the characters actions. Why did Alice's mother, Ann, commit adultery? Continuously for over 30 years? Why did her husband put up with it? Who were her sisters? What did the father-in-law feel when his son chose his shiksa over a nice Jewish girl?
This is a quick and compelling read. It filled the niche in my reading requirements before I embark on next moth's book group selection. I recommend it if you don't want to have to think too hard.