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4.2 out of 5
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  • Contrived & Unappealing

    is is very definitely part of a series and it shows. If you aren't already in the know about the cast of characters that (formerly) live(d) at 44 Scotland Street then there is not much here to hang your hat on in the way of characterisation. Despite the short precis at the front of the book explaining where we are up to with the series I found it very difficult to connect with the cast initially. To be perfectly honest I found it hard to connect with some of them at all. Angus, Pat and Matthew were of particular concern to me. They were such weak characters in their own individual ways and I was so tempted to skip their sections of the book because they annoyed me so much. Domenica is a pretty important character to the book but I could not fathom her out at all. Bertie and his appalling helicopter mother I loved, very precocious six year old he may be but his sections were the only ones to deliver any real humour. I also enjoyed the brief glimpses of Cyril - yes, I know he was a dog but he was a stronger, more fully formed character than some of the people in here. The plot is all a little bit Seinfeld - a great deal of nothing. Whilst this worked for the 90s sitcom it does not work so well in a book. I could see what the author was striving for, the over-arcing mundanity of live but it really doesn't work when your cast are rather rarefied and unbelievable. The writing style did not help in the slightest and I found it to be rather patronising to the reader and, in places, downright pseudo-intellectual like he was trying to make everything seem far more interesting by use of archaic and rural terms interspersed with the text. Fortunately the rural terms I was familiar with and no words were used that made me race for a dictionary but I did find it all a little contrived to impress the long-list writers for various awards. So, why then 2 stars? Well, I gave it 1 for Bertie and 1 for Cyril. The rest of it I really could have done without. Suffice to say I won't be reading any more of this Author's books as I read to entertain myself and there was little that entertained me here and it became a race to the finish so that I could start something that I may actually enjoy. This was a real disappointment as a good friend recommended the books to me and she has never got it wrong before.

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