Book Review – Cousins


by Sally Vickers (Viking) ISBN: 9780241187722

I read Sally Vickers earlier novels, Miss Garnet’s Angel and The Cleaner of Chartres many years ago, but I remembered how their sense of destiny and rightness made me feel. I was hoping for more – but there were parts of Cousins that made me impatient and irritated.

A family is thrown into turmoil by a tragic accident that changes everything; the 3 dominant women in the family try to understand what and why; family secrets are brought to light – it’s nothing new as a narrative. What interested me was Sally Vickers’ approach, using each spokeswoman almost as a witness seeking reasons to exonerate themselves as complicit in the tragedy that unfolds. She is a fine writer, her prose rich with literary references and emotions that can startle and make one think.

But her style in this instance interfered with the flow. I had to stop so many times to go back and unravel sentences that had long digressions in the middle, and to figure out who she was talking about (because nearly all the characters have real names, nicknames and family names.)

I did like the idea that there are no real answers to life’s huge moral dilemmas, that there is confusion in what we think we know, and that everyone experiences one single event differently, like a link in their own personal chain.

I can’t rave about this book, but it’s an interesting read.

Judy Ward
3/5

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