Love and Devotion

On the whole, I like Erica James' novels. She seems to publish a new one each year, and there's a clear progression in her style. The early ones were village sagas, enjoyable in a low-key way but without any major shocks or surprises. Then she experimented with 'The Holiday' which I thought was too predictable - a caricatured holiday romance book. Followed by the brilliant 'Precious Time' where she started to show real talent for characterisation. This talent continued in the next couple of books, and in the one which I've just finished reading.

This one also includes some pretty dramatic story-lines. It follows the maturing of Harriet, a thirty-three year old programmer whose life is straightforward, minimalist, and reasonably contented. In temperament theory, she's a clear Rational - and, I thought, very well written. Tragedy strikes her family and she finds herself (in the first chapter) legal guardian to two children, something she feels completely unprepared for.

The novel follows her gradual acceptance of the role, and discoveries about the nature of motherhood, as well as her experimenting with love and passion. She also unravels a secret in her sister's past, rather naively missing the obvious answer which I'd guessed long before Harriet did. And yet, it's in character that she often didn't see what was around her. Her blossoming and growing seemed believable, and often moving.

All in all, a very enjoyable book.

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