The Glass Lake

It's been a while since I read Maeve Binchy's books - four or five years at least - and my memory was that I liked the more recent ones considerably more than the earlier ones. Nonetheless, I decided to try 'The Glass Lake' again, and while it took me a week to finish the 700-odd pages, it was much more enjoyable than I remembered. Or perhaps, taking it more slowly, I had time to appreciate it better.

Kit McMahon is twelve when the book opens, in Ireland in 1952. She's a normal schoolgirl whose live is changed by a dramatic event that effects not just her family but the whole village. The story is about hope, love, white lies and betrayal in a family saga setting. There's interesting post-war social history too, as we see rapidly changing attitudes towards women's roles in society, divorce, and the issue of unmarried mothers.

The book was well-written without being at all boring despite its length. There are several subplots that work alongside the main story of Kit's growing up, and just enough action for my tastes. The ending was satisfactory without being too neat and tidy.

And yet...

Somehow I had no empathy with any of the characters. They all seemed realistic, but not quite real. I didn't feel as if I knew any of them by the end of the book, and I didn't really care what happened to them. There wasn't much humour in the book - which is fair enough - but although there were moments which should have been emotional, they left me mostly untouched.

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