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by Regina O’Melveny

3*

Like good wine, it seems you need to develop a palate before you can enjoy this renaissance tale of a young girl forgoing marriage and the expectations of her society and times to become – first a doctor, then a traveller, who undertakes an epic journey in search of her lost father.

It took me quite a while to get into it, for about 60 pages I found the story stolid and the style too self-consciously poetic and affected.

Then something clicked, and suddenly, I found that the language was wonderful, the rather slow plot developed purpose and I found myself riveted – till the end, when it does seem to rather lose momentum, finally dropping down from earlier, moving heights, to a disappointingly pat, safe and sadly predictable end.

The language is frequently pretentious, many of the metaphors simply do not work, with words chosen for their apparent beauty, that – when you stop and think and analyse the meaning – are complete nonsense and have no actual meaning at all.

But they do sound pretty and that, in the end, is what makes this book such an intense and full-flavoured read that, after a stodgy start, grows wings, takes flight and turns a rather thin plot into something quite special.

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