For the last three books that Martina Cole has written, I finish it and then promise myself I won’t waste money buying it full price. I feel terrible saying that but it’s the truth. I have always been a huge Martina Cole fan and loved the older books such as `Ladykillers’. Sadly it seems that many authors who have huge success seem to go rapidly downhill. I fear that Martina Cole is now firmly on that list. So after finishing her last book entitled The Family I swore that was it. Yet here I am a year later having broken that promise and paying full price for it. For some reason, due to Martina’s sheer talent, I always feel that maybe this is the year she will come back with a bang. 3 years on and I am still not feeling the slightest rumble, let alone bang.
Overall this book was far from terrible, but it is still lacking something which I can’t quite put my finger on. The story itself sounded fabulous from the synopsis and I was looking forward to reading this. As I started reading I had high hopes as you are drawn into the world of the loathsome Cynthia Tailor. Martina certainly still has the knack of producing some vile characters and Cynthia is one of them. Cynthia is a character that is constantly wanting more and its pretty clear from the outset that this woman will stop at nothing to get her own way.
I was very excited reading the first few chapters as the story took no time at all to pick up momentum. I was swept along with Cynthia’s sister Celeste who has bagged the ultimate prize in her partner Johnny. A local face and a man set for better things. Cynthia’s children Gabby and James Junior play a very large part in the beginning of the story as do her parents Mary and Jack.
It becomes clear before long that the story is set over quite a long time period and as w hole the story itself was great, as were the characters. Halfway through and I was still loving the writing but felt that the major difference between this and her older book sis the sheer volume of narrative. I am certainly no book expert, I just know what I like. I don’t recall Martina Cole’s earlier books ever being this descriptive. If you were to weigh up the descriptive narrative and the characters actually speaking I think people would be shocked. It felt like there was an awful lot of repetition and I really didn’t need to be told hundreds of times how much Cynthia wanted everything!!!
I genuinely feel so torn about this book. I actually liked the story and the characters and her writing is still as strong as ever. However, I really disliked the amount of description everything had, and I had that sinking feeling that I was just reading a re-hashed story I had read a million times before. I am still really unsure whether Martina Cole has changed her writing, or whether the competition out there has just got better. These days with the likes of new writers such as Kimberley Chambers and Dreda Say-Mitchell coming along, maybe people expect more. I know it sounds a little sad, but I can’t help wishing that Martina would make a monumental comeback with a book that blows everybody away.
Overall I can’t say that I disliked this book, but it just isn’t as good as some others. No doubt I will still (stupidly) continue paying full price for Martina’s new books praying that it’s the best ever! I imagine that this book will get really mixed reviews and would suggest seeing her better work you should try her earlier stuff.