With this novel, I stopped short of the 10% mark due to irritating language issues. Two issues were observed:
1. Palin tends to write in long sentences and the content of such sentences adds little to the story line.
2. Some of the language is really odd.
An example of the long sentence issue is perhaps best illustrated on page 21 of the paperback:
“He tugged at the phone cord, which had twisted itself around the cast-iron umbrella stand
On analysing this sentence:
- There are two subjects – a phone cord and a cast-iron umbrella stand. The two subjects are unrelated.
- If it were necessary, the sentence could conclude with mention of the umbrella stand and a second sentence could form to further detail aspects of the umbrella stand. So, “He tugged at the phone cord, which had twisted itself around a cast-iron umbrella stand. The umbrella stand had so delighted Krystyna when she’d spotted it in a local junk shop”
- As the sentence occurs amid a telephone conversation then perhaps all that is of immediate relevance (the reader have been earlier told on page 20 that the phone was on a long line through the house) is: “He tugged at the phone cord”.
- If the author needs to develop an understanding of Krystyna - as particular to her junk shop buying habits - then it could occur elsewhere.
An example of odd language is on page 23 with two joining sentences:
“It was evening and he was at the kitchen table, absently flicking through the pages of what turned out to be yesterday’s Evening Standard. Jay had prepared supper for the two of them, as always a little stronger on the lettuce than he would have preferred”
The oddities are:
- One does not absently flick through pages of a paper only to make the observation as to the age or date of the paper. One flicks absently through a paper instead in a distracted mode. One’s focus would typically be elsewhere. Palin has allowed his author’s voice to interfere here. We are not in the mind of the character, but instead in the mind of the author. That is, the author pictures his character as being an Evening Standard reader and is crafting the character as one which the audience would consider as an Evening Standard reader. The sentence would be adequate as: “It was evening and he was at the kitchen table, absently flicking through the pages of a newspaper”.
All that being said, I feel that while the reader was well orientated by page 23, the characters were thinly drawn.