27/12/2001

Off Balance (by Mary Sheepshanks)

I only discovered Mary Sheepshanks recently, but enjoyed what I read, so added one or two of her other books to my wish list, and received one for Christmas.

'Off Balance' is a wonderful book. Isobel and Giles live in a huge house in Scotland, which is being partly converted to an arts/drama centre. They have twin children: Amy, a charming and talented young violinist, and Edward, who has a form of autism combined with some physical handicaps.

Isobel's sister Lorna - an old girlfriend of Giles'- arrives to take over some of the administration of the centre. Shortly afterwards, a talented artist called Daniel arrive to work on backdrops.

The people are very warm and believable, with Edward in particular a highly sympathetic character. Family relationships are well explored, and serious problems almost strike Isobel and Giles' marriage before the climax. This leads to renewed strength and determination for the future.

Overall I thought it excellent, and was even more pleased when, in the epilogue, it seemed as though there might be a sequel. Unfortunately, I don't think there is.

Highly recommended.

(Note: over six years later I discovered that a sequel - or at least, a follow-up - was written, although Mary Sheepshanks started using her maiden name, Mary Nickson. The sequel is 'Secrets and Shadows', reviewed here in 2008.)

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