book reviews by Althea

The Facts of Life – Graham Joyce ****

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I would have liked this book more if I had read it before “The Limits of Enchantment.”
It has most of the same elements: rural British life, a midwife whose traditional methods come into conflict with the National Health Service, an ‘intellectual’ commune where the reality fails to live up to the ideal, etc, etc.
I mean, it has so much of the Same Stuff that it’s a little weird. I was trying to figure out if they were supposed to be connected in some way – but I don’t think so.

This one adds in the Blitz, and a family of women, all coming together to raise a little boy who may or may not have special talents.

Where ‘Limits’ is a very personal story, centered on one character, this is an ensemble novel. I don’t prefer ensemble stories – but I have to say, the format does point out Joyce’s real talent for characterization. It’s like watching a talented sketch artist – one line, two, three… and suddenly the likeness is there, to the life.


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