Sunday, 16 March 2014

Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of The Land Beyond Goodbye, Don’t Look Down and the soon to be published Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion.

What We Thought: I'm glad I knew nothing about this book until I read it because it certainly isn't pensioner erotica or granny lit as some people have said. It’s a perfectly decent book about perfectly decent people.

I was put off at first by the fact that the characters were all so well-heeled and that for them work was more of a hobby than a means of earning necessary cash. However, the insights into relationships got me past my lingering irritation at this. Hilary Boyd has a knack of seeing and recording the complex and often conflicted emotions people have. She shows us human beings who are not straightforward and are perfectly capable of holding two opposing viewpoints at the same time - as most of us are. Yes, it is possible to not want to do something but do it anyway just to keep the peace. And yes, one can both love and hate the same person at the same time. Boyd puts emotions under the microscope so that all the self-delusion, self-interest and mild callousness that calls itself love is fully exposed.

The main character does dither a bit and gives way when you want her to stand firm, but do all heroines have to be kick-ass these days? I think the strong heroine is fairly well represented in fiction now and we can be allowed to read about weaker women without seeing that as somehow anti-feminist. Why can't we have books about ordinary women who do ordinary things and are often misguided? Let’s hear it for the women who don’t always know their own minds and who give in gracefully because they can’t bothered arguing any more. There are certainly enough of us out here.

I enjoyed Thursdays in the Park much more than I imagined I would and immediately went on to read another Hilary Boyd novel, Tangled Lives.

You'll enjoy this if you like: Books about ordinary, though fairly well-off, people; Fanny Blake.

Avoid if you dislike: Novels about the middle classes caught in tangles largely of their own making.

Ideal accompaniments: A nice cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. And a sneaky glass of white wine afterwards.

Genre: General Fiction; Women’s Fiction.

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