Love and Devotion, by Erica James

When Harriet's sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident, Harriet finds herself having to take responsibility for her now parent-less nephew and niece. This means giving up her job, her boyfriend, her house, and her independence. Meanwhile Will, who's had a mid-life crisis and marital breakdown, buys a house near where Harriet and the children are living. I wonder what might happen.

This was a pretty long book (fifteen CDs). Too long, really: one of the problems was that there were too many stories in the book. As well as the main thing with Harriet, there's also Will's story, Will's daughters, Harriet's parents, the children and Harriet's childhood friends. It didn't need all of this but I can imagine that if you like this type of writing then you'd be pleased that there's so much of it.

It was fairly undemanding stuff, and so in the right frame of mind it slips down easily enough. But while I was listening to this book I was also reading The Hand That First Held Mind, and couldn't help noticing what a difference in style there was - the writing in is book was, by comparison, flabby and rambling.

A couple of things which jarred - Harriet is a computer programmer, and a really good one by all accounts. But I think it might have been better if Erica James had done a bit of research into this. Harriet is described as spending a large part of her time sitting and thinking, not using the computer at all, which isn't my experience of what programmers do.

She's also described at one point as feeling pleased with herself "after a particularly satisfying bit of programming". And most irritatingly, when she finds some email messages from her dead sister, which are encoded with a Caesar cipher, she spends many evenings painstakingly decoding them by hand, which doesn't sound like something that you'd do if you knew how to write a computer program.

Not as bad as some books I've read, but not a lot of literary merit.

Completed : 13-Sep-2011 (audiobook)

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