(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I found this book a really intriguing read. Although it did switch between first and third person, that wasn’t quite as irritating as it can be and I found the storyline really easy to follow in both plots.
Although there are traces of similarities in the situations that Alice and Elizabeth were both in, I don’t think, personally, that it was as similar as the blurb on the book made out. That’s not to say I didn’t find Alice’s fascination with Elizabeth’s story intriguing… but I don’t think the blurb was entirely accurate.
I was able to empathise with Alice quite easily and I felt the author did a really good job of showing how difficult that kind of time was for a woman to have a child out of wedlock. I couldn’t easily relate to Alice’s parents – her mother didn’t seem a very nice person and her father came across as quite weak. Alternately, I found Elizabeth to be a much more remote character. Even her diary entries seemed removed somehow and I found myself more fascinated by Elizabeth’s interactions with the people around her, rather than by the character herself.
Parts of the book were very atmospheric and I felt that the author had put a lot of time and effort into crafting the decade/s the book was set in. I felt very sympathetic towards Isabel as a character. The final scene with her was quite disturbing and although I could understand Elizabeth, to an extent, I really didn’t like her much by the end of the book.
It was interesting to see how psychiatric illness was viewed by the doctors in that time. There was one thing in particular that I’d thought would go somewhere, but it only seemed included for the sake of it, rather than to further the storyline.
I did like Edith and Ruck as characters, although I had some mixed feelings about them for a while. And I did like Alice’s relationship with Tom. I also liked the play on the title.
I don’t think I’d read this book again, but I did find it really well-written and intriguing. I wouldn’t be averse to reading more books by this author in the future.