A Matter of Trust (by Robin Pilcher)

I've very much enjoyed the novels by Robin Pilcher, son of Rosamunde Pilcher who has sadly stopped writing now. He shares his mother's amazing gift of characterisation, while writing rather more gritty novels.

So I was delighted when I learned that his latest, 'A Matter of Trust' (confusingly called 'The Long Way Home' in the USA) was available in paperback. I put it on my wishlist, and received a copy recently.

The story is about Claire, a young woman who has an unhappy - and entirely mystifying - end to a teenage crush on Jonas, the boy next door, as the story opens. We then flash back to her childhood, when her widowed mother first meets her stepfather Leo.

The structure is slightly confusing - each chapter has a heading giving the month and year, which vary from 1980 - when Claire is ten - to 2006 when she's a young wife, helping her American husband run a restaurant. This didn't always flow as well as I would have liked, although the flashbacks helped to fill in the story in a way that gradually gave a good picture of Claire's life.

Leo is a delightful character, and I very much enjoyed his friendship with Claire and her mother. However he has two children, a little older than Claire, who are most unpleasant types; I found them rather too nasty, not just as jealous, selfish children (not wishing their father to re-marry at all) but as grasping, bitter adults. It was hard to believe that anyone could be quite so vicious.

The writing is very good, with most of the people well-rounded and interesting, and the plot quite exciting. I was eagerly awaiting the resolution of the mystery posed in the first chapter, and pleased with a satisfying conclusion. All in all, a good book, although I had no problem putting it down after a chapter or two each night, and didn't have any real desire to keep reading in the daytime.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 22nd May 2011

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