16/06/2005

A Risk Worth Taking

This is Robin Pilcher's third novel. I thoroughly enjoyed his first two; he's my favourite author Rosamunde Pilcher's son, and while his writing is sometimes cruder than hers, and the endings tend to be left rather open, I still find the style eminently readable and his characters believable and likeable.

This book is about Dan Porter, who at the start of the book is unemployed. He looks after the house and cooks for the family, but his wife Jackie has lost respect for him since he stopped working in London. They have three children: a drop-out son called Josh, and two daughters who seem to live for the television, mobile phones and fast food. Out of the blue he reads an article about a clothes company in Scotland which is for sale, and decides to follow this up.

I suppose it's a fairly typical story of a marriage with problems that aren't likely to be resolved. Jackie is portrayed right from the start as rather harsh and uncaring, so I wasn't really rooting for her to be reconciled to Dan. The second character I felt was developed well was Josh, who turns out to be very likeable under the messy, procrastinating exterior. But perhaps it's typical of a male author that the men seem real and the women rather caricatured.

I didn't like it as much as the others to start with, partly because there were no female characters I could empathise with and partly because there seemed to be a lot of digs (at the church, for instance) and assumptions (eg that private schools are much better than state ones) that weren't explored at all. There was also a fair amount of business talk in the middle of the book, which I skimmed. But still, I got drawn into Dan's life and those of people he met in the second half of the book, and by the last few chapters could hardly put it down.

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