03/06/2002

Like we used to be (by Jean Stubbs)

I can't quite make up my mind about the books by Jean Stubbs. I find them intriguing, and the characters well-developed, but the plots tend to have just a bit too much 'gritty reality' in them for my tastes. And they tend to be set in the early or late twentieth century, which is not my favourite time for historical novels.

Yet whenever I see another in a charity shop, I pick it up. Hence why I read 'Like we used to be' immediately after another of her novels.

As the story opens we're introduced to Leila and her boyfriend, at Leila's sister Zoë's marriage to Matthew. Leila does not like Matthew. Zoë is much more traditional than her sister, who is unconventional with no intention of settling down to marriage and motherhood.

As the book progresses, the viewpoint alternates in sections between Leila and Zoë, building up a picture of their family and Zoë's growing unhappiness.

Cleverly written, with a hopeful ending. Pleasant light reading. No longer in print in either the UK or USA, but it's the kind of book that often turns up second-hand.

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