Top positive review
A wonderfully engaging book
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2014
This is a book with literary ambitions, with a narrative technique which is an element of the story. The language is at times choppy, at times lyrical, depending on the viewpoint. There are points where the narrative is hard to follow, but the effort necessary is well rewarded. I found myself thoroughly engaged with the characters and their stories. Looking for a broad theme in the book, I think it it would be that in disadvantaged communities like NW London there are bright spots and very dark spots, and even those who outwardly escape remain marked by their experiences.
After a few weeks, I decided to re-read the book and found it even more interesting the second time through. Seemingly insignificant details at the beginning of the book revealed themselves when read again with knowledge of how the story develops. I found that another enriching experience is to read the book with Google maps handy. Typing in streets or locations mentioned in the book brings up the real places where these imagined scenes take place. Towards the end of the book Natalie and Nathan walk across the city and it is fascinating to trace their route and see some of the landmarks mentioned, such as the flower shop next to Kilburn station (flanked by an Italian Restaurant, not Chinese take-out) and the bridge where Natalie looks out over South London.
Again, a rewarding read.