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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


The narrator of this story, Clodagh Brown, experienced a tragic misadventure as a teenager when she and her young boyfriend were climbing an electrical pylon. Her parents send her away to London to live with a couple of their unpleasant friends in a basement flat in Maida Vale, away from reminders and mean spirited local gossip. She falls in with a group of young people who get their kicks from negotiating London's rooftops. Most of the group have serious problems. Jonny is a criminal, Liv is agorophobic, Silver went missing for a period of time when he was a child and has blocked all recollection of the experience, Wim was emotionally abused in his youth and is happy only when scaling the rooftops. Silver has income from an inheritance and takes all the other damaged waifs under his wing or rather his roof.
There were too many characters, many of whom are one dimensional. There is Clodagh, her parents, her landlords and their cleaning lady, her would be suitor, the 8 or 9 residents of Silver's apartment, Liv's employers, her parents, the kidnappers, the family of one of the kidnappers, the residents and landlord of the house where the kidnappers are holed up, Clodagh's employers, her tortoiseshell cats and more. Almost every type of psychological disorder makes an appearance as well as most types of criminal activity (drunk driving, theft, physical assault, kidnapping, forgery and even a (perhaps) peripheral murder). It is not clear why Silver and Clodagh decide to abet a pair of kidnappers or why Silver allows behaviour that is unacceptable by anyone's standards to occur in his apartment or why his parents, who reside at their country estate, have no interest in who lives in their Maida Vale home or what the heck goes on there. There is just too much going on in this novel for it to be plausible; it made my head ache. In fact, I think Vine could have made several novels out of the material contained in this one.
That said I don't think this author is capable of writing a bad book and I was drawn in despite my strained credulity.

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