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by Morag Joss
Delta, July 2007
384 pages
ISBN: 0385340907

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Opera singer Lila du Cann returns to her seaside Scottish hometown of Burnhead to bury her estranged father. Lilaís memories are not pleasant but she feels compelled to be there. A visit to her fatherís attic reawakens a fateful summer where her life was forever changed.

It was the summer of Turandot, where she was participating in the production of a community theatre version of Pucciniís greatest work. It would be her motherís last chance to shine after suffering a series of setbacks inside the opera world. It will be a summer her family would never forget.

In the telling of the story Morag Joss flips back and forth from Lilaís unreliable first-person present narration to that of Lila as a young teenager inside a third-person narrative as she is recalling her past. Lila sees herself as a tragic figure, someone without a chance for happiness. However all this does is to show the readers that she is aloof and unconcerned about others inside of the book.

A lot of things happen inside the book due to young Lilaís machinations and her not realizing the consequences of what she had planned. It instead brings forth a story of family dissolution using Pucciniís Turandot as a backdrop. It doesnít do anything else.

Joss is a good writer and she demonstrates it in this book. She knows how to flesh out her characters and let them develop. It is the storytelling that suffers. The plot plods at a really slow pace and there are few surprises in store for readers. It is a bad sign when a writer uses the name of a famous person or classicist in the title of a book. It could mean the book might not be able to stand out on its own. This is what happens here.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, August 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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