On a positive note, I loved the cover and some of the settings, especially in Kashmir, were wonderful. Unfortunately there wasn't much else about this book that impressed me. I am baffled by the number of five star reviews - in my opinion, this was not a well written book. There were three main reasons why I struggled with this read. Firstly the number of colloquialisms and slang words used - 'snot-rags', 'sprog', 'naff', 'attack of the wobblies', which may have their place in conversation, but were jarring when used within the main text. Secondly, I found the book jumped suddenly at times, with no warning and the narrative felt irregular and clunky. Thirdly, some of the events were just not believable. I can't elaborate for fear of spoilers, but I will just say that the circumstances surrounding the conception of the second child did not ring true for me.
The main character is Nina Maitland, who finds herself pregnant in Kashmir in 1968. Her unwed state makes her pregnancy shameful and when she loses the baby at birth, she isolates herself on a houseboat away from everyone. When a love interest comes along and she starts to recover from the trauma of the birth, it is surrounded by taboos that she cannot overcome.
Events in Thailand stretched my ability to believe in the story, but after these are resolved, Nina returns to Ireland and makes a peaceful home for herself and her son.
Nina's life seems to jump from one drama to the next and the whole novel felt rather Mills and Boon in its style. However, it did touch on some interesting points - illegitimate birth, the problems of being a priest in the Catholic Church, prison life in Thailand and multiple inter-family relationships.
Having stuck my neck out here and criticised this book, I should just add that I was not alone in my opinions - at least two members of our book group abandoned it in spite of the fact that we were due to discuss it, they found it just too far - fetched. It will be interesting to see what the others thought when we meet next week.