22/07/2006

The Golden Cup (by Marcia Willett)

Marcia Willett is fast becoming one of my favourite modern authors. 'The Golden Cup' is very well written with a clever and complex plot intertwining past and present, but without jarring.

A young American arrives in the UK trying to research his family history. He wants to speak to Mutt, an elderly lady, who was apparently married at the same time as his great-aunt. Unfortunately Mutt is ill, and her younger relatives don't feel it would be helpful to allow the meeting. Mutt, hearing about the American, becomes quite disturbed and asks her granddaughter Joss to find some old letters...

What transpires is almost unbelievable, yet it works in context. I found myself in sympathy with nearly all the characters, who were well-drawn and likeable. We see each of them from varying perspectives - primarily that of Joss, in the present, but also that of Mutt, many years previously when she first arrived in the UK.

It did take a while to get into the story; at first it seemed rather slow-moving with an enormous number of inter-related characters, some of whom appeared extraneous. I read only a chapter or two at a time over about ten days in a busy period, and sometimes forgot who was whom from one day to the next. But by about half-way through I was hooked, and towards the end could hardly put it down. Recommended.

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