This Little World by Imogen Parker
|This Little World by Imogen Parker|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This book is the third in the trilogy by Imogen Parker. Set in a sleepy, seaside resort, it's a multi-generational family saga - with lots of skeletons in cupboards.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 759||Date: September 2009|
I haven't read the first two books in the trilogy but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of This Little World. They all stand alone as individual novels in their own right. Those readers who have already enjoyed the first two books will know most of the characters and will be keen to find out - what happens next.
The book opens in the early 1990s. For me, this book has two distinct yet interweaving strands. It has the whole family dynamics thing going on with all the inevitable twists and turns. Imogen Parker certainly does family. She also makes sure that many of her characters go through the emotional wringer, displaying it by the bucket-load.
Alongside all of this emotional turmoil, Parker gives the reader slices of social and political life every now and again, very much in the style of 'Where were you when JFK was assassinated?' Important landmarks on the calendar are given their due place on the printed page: such as the birth of New Labour, the pros and cons of the Millennium Dome, 9/11 and its dreadful aftermath. I recognized a passing resemblance to Blake Morrison's South Of The River here.
Parker centres around three women of three different generations as the year 2000 approaches in the fictional seaside resort of Kingshaven. We have the twentysomething new graduate, Cat, not so much working but more ambling along, in her local bookshop, wondering what to do with her life. Then there's the middle-aged Iris with her dark secret. Finally, there's the elderly matriarch, Liliana, who appears to be waiting for death. Interestingly these three women are not related. But what does relate them to each other is that they all have this pull to Kingshaven. The situations these women experience are universal. Many women (and indeed men) can relate to them.
Another universal theme is love. Parker seems to have great fun here - with plenty of affairs between many of the characters as well as unrequited passion and unwise or failed relationships. In this context, many characters (Iris, Winston, Ruby) come to the printed page with plenty of baggage.
The author sprinkles This Little World with quite a few relationships. Is she perhaps questioning the purpose of marriage?. Is is simply old-fashioned? Irrelevant? Once again, this is a universal subject, where current statistics suggest that traditional marriages are on the decrease.
Parker is fond of her descriptive paragraphs. She crams in a lot of detail. She also presents the reader with lots of characters. Can a book have too many characters perhaps? Personally, I did find the numerous characters a tad confusing at the beginning of the book and found myself constantly having to refer back. It did spoil the enjoyment a little, I must admit. Parker has, however, included a Cast of Characters right at the beginning. By doing so, has she perhaps answered my question?
Imogen Parker is a good story-teller. She gives the reader lots of detail including all the juicy gossip that most of us secretly love. It's almost as if we are eavesdropping behind the living room door. Her style is flowing and conversational. We are also treated to some rather elegant prose ... Liliana King's best friend, ... was fading like a single pink rose and ... could roam secure in the knowledge that you could return to a pink house in Islington.
There is also an intriguing story within a story which I found extremely effective especially in its drip-feed telling. It could be a novel in its own right, in my opinion.
On the negative side, I found that there were a little too many dense descriptive paragraphs. I also felt that the social-political pieces came across as rather contrived in order to fit in with the characters. In conclusion, I would describe this book as a lovely series of mini-stories, woven together to create a colourful and exquisite patchwork quilt for the reader.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Family Album by Penelope Lively.
You can read more book reviews or buy This Little World by Imogen Parker at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy This Little World by Imogen Parker at Amazon.com.
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