Ms. Williams has a gift for phrasing that left me in awe and laughter on several occasions. At one point, a desperate, childless woman on the verge of divorce imagines her future:
“The coffee mornings would dry up, she'd be thrown out of the W.I. and so, ladies and gentlemen, there would end the briefest of sorties into an accepting society; by next month she expected to have rejoined the outcasts: criminals, prostitutes and single childless women with an eye on middle age.”
Later, another unhappy wife sums up life this way: “But life was like that, it was rubbish piled up next to palaces, orchids growing on dung heaps.”
Despite the large cast, Ms. Williams did a wonderful job of fleshing out her characters. Overall, the only character I didn’t care for was Eve. She was so oblivious to the surrounding world that I found it difficult to empathize with her or care very much about her fate. I was much more interested in the destinies of those surrounding her; in fact, I was heartbroken for one particular father and his daughter.
There are enough errors in the book – mostly punctuation and extra or missed words – that I believe a good copy editor is in order. However, these errors didn’t significantly impact my reading enjoyment.
This is a commendable first novel, given its topic and scope. I believe Ms. Williams has just begun to show us what she can do, and I can hardly wait to see her future work.
**UPDATE 6/3/11** I have been in touch with the author and provided her with my list of concerns, some of which, according to the author, are differences between American and British English -- something I certainly can understand. The others are being corrected and a new version will be uploaded soon, thus making future readers that much more impressed with her work.