24/10/2005

Girl from the South

I've read and enjoyed most of Joanna Trollope's modern fiction, but hadn't bought or asked for this one due to its rather poor reviews at Amazon UK. Still, when I found it for just over a pound at a charity shop, I thought it would fill a few idle hours...

Expecting to be unenthralled, I actually found it an enjoyable book. It's very much about culture differences and expectations, set in both London (UK) and Charleston (USA). There are really four main characters, but the title refers to Gillon, a girl raised in the old-fashioned South, by an elegant grandmother and hard-working mother, who feels that she doesn't fit in. She takes a job in London in the hope of escaping from a claustrophobic family, only to find that they do matter to her more than she realised.

Inevitably there are love-affairs, but they're not overdone or unbelievable. Gillon isn't the only person to examine herself and look at her expectations, and there are some thoughtful sections looking at friendship, work ethics, parenting, and general family values. There was almost a hint of a Libby Purves novel, though without the terse style and shock value.

It wasn't a book to read all at once; for about the first three-quarters of it, I often found I had to put it down at the end of a chapter and take a break, as it became almost overwhelming with so much conversation. It was light enough to pick up in odd moments, memorable enough that I rarely had to backtrack to find out who was whom, and enjoyable enough that by the end I could barely put it down.

If this is a new direction for Joanna Trollope, I shall look forward to her future novels even more.

No comments: