12/05/2003

Home Leave (by Libby Purves)

I was very pleased to discover that Libby Purves, a fairly well-known journalist, has written some novels. After very much enjoying the first one I came across, I'm slowly trying to collect them all.

'Home Leave' is about four siblings called Cat, Toby, Mark and Caroline, who grew up as the children of diplomats. This means that they moved country every few years, and were educated in many different schools.

Cat has now settled down with an upright and likeable organic farmer, who helps young criminals to gain a sense of self-worth in his spare time. Toby, by contrast, lives a rather bohemian and relaxed lifestyle.

Mark, different again, is a solid financier, and Caroline seems to be happy in her marriage.

Problems arise for all four of them, and the book sees these resolved, with joys alongside heartbreaks. There are some very strong emotions involved, and the various subplots are well-written and cleverly woven together. Libby Purves has a terse style, free from flowery language or lengthy description, yet her characters come to life very well.

I did find some of the people a bit caricatured, but they were mostly believable, and I thought that the ending was excellent.

Recommended.

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