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    I can't put my finger on what it was but something was missing in this novel. The start is so evocative and made me eager to dive in and read about these three generations of Venetian women transplanted, by marriage to London and on in to Cornwall. The detailing of Alexa's 18th birthday ball were so rich I read on eagerly. Unfortunately, I found the story to be, ultimately, very disappointing. I think the main reason for this is the character of Alexa. She is a very unworldly girl and also incredibly self-centred. To me this was epitomised by her time away at boarding school. She made no friends and held herself apart from her classmates, from the text it would appear that they did not shun her but rather she shunned them. I understand that she was grieving the loss of her mother but this sets the benchmark for all her future interactions with people. When you find the main character so unpalatable it is hard to invest in the outcome of their tale. Even worse her beau, Harvey Ferris, seems to be a fairly upright young man of the era but he has little in the way of backbone when it comes to Alexa. He appears to be completely blind to her faults and is, as a result, a rather one dimensional character who serves only as a foil for Alexa. The plot itself is rather good. Calling it a sweeping family saga would be hyperbole though. It is a tale of an early twentieth century girl from her early years on the cusp of womanhood through to her death in the early 1980s. However, the tale itself is only concerned with the mid-1920s through to the early 1930s and only from the perspective of the one character. There is no real social commentary, no political unrest, just a saccharine tale of searching for her Nonna and becoming entangled with an absolute cad along the way. This could have been so much more. Ultimately this was a very disappointing book with very weak characterisation. Nobody has depth or interest to their characters; behaving in completely predictable, stereotyped ways that serve only to lessen your interest in what happens to them. The plot could have been developed so much further and rather than a rather trite love story could have encapsulated the times so much better by using a little social history. Not one for me and it certainly didn't serve to get me looking at the author's back catalogue.

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