Gale follows up his highly successful Notes From an Exhibition with this close-knit drama of middle-age possibilities and regrets. … Gale’s literary device is to set the entire story in one day filled with flashbacks. In some ways it works very neatly as the various characters move through what, on the surface, is just any other day while underneath all kinds of emotions are boiling. The structure, in which so many of these thoughts take place over a cup of tea or a mid morning coffee, is superficially successful. But with teh constant changes in viewpoint, coupled with the ever moving timescale, it is easy to become lost and lose track of which incident happened when. It then comes as a surprise to realise how far back some of these memories actually are. Gale is much more at home in carefully creating character and in many ways the book is dominated by Laura’s mother, a naturalist gardener who likes nothing more than a good cup of tea and hacking away at the roses. Mummy has been a great intellectual force in her time but her body is now giving up on her and as she and Laura renegotiate their roles it is a look into the future for many of us. Gale is a gifted writer whose talent is in the miniature. Despite the problems coping with a fractured timeline this is nevertheless an enjoyable read.

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