In Between Days by Andrew Porter

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In Between Days by Andrew Porter

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: After a slow start, this story of a family whose lives are unraveling picks up pace and becomes gripping by the final third. Possibly one to borrow rather than buy, but well worth reading.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0224089838

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After Chloe Harding is forced to leave her East Coast college, for reasons she refuses to explain to her recently divorced parents or older brother Richard, her family's lives start to unravel. Will the rest of them ever find out what caused her fall from grace, and can they solve their own problems?

I struggled through the first eighty pages or so of this one, nearly putting it down on several occasions. However, I was on a train and had nothing else I was that keen on reading, so I kept going. I'm glad I did - the middle third is a significant improvement on the opening, while the final hundred pages or so are so gripping I found it hard to believe they were written by the same person as the early chapters!

Porter's prose is serviceable, to be honest. That's possibly a case of damning with faint praise, but it's the best description I can come up with. In the early part of the book when the characters and plot didn't have my interest, it led to me feeling like I was trudging through it. Once the plot and characters improved significantly then his style became much easier to read and I raced through it.

I found Chloe and Richard to be really interesting, and their parents less so, but I did like the family dynamic between the four of them. I also thought that the eventual revelation of why Chloe had been forced to leave college was built up to well, if a little too slowly at first. Throw in an ending that kept me guessing and gave me a satisfying conclusion to the story, and I'm almost ready to recommend this. Memories of just how much I struggled with the first quarter or so of the book do make me think it might be one worth getting out of the library rather than buying, though. Still, I look forward to seeing what Porter does next.

For an excellent story about two dysfunctional families, don't miss The Red House by Mark Haddon.

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