Initially I didn’t like this book one bit. I can’t say exactly what it was that caused me to have an almost instant dislike but it was there. Perhaps it was the first person, perhaps it was something else. But I had an unpleasant taste in my mouth while reading the first chapter. So I set it down and ignored it. But then I picked it up again and devoured the rest. Once I got past that initial dislike of the book it grew on my quickly. The story absolutely absorbed me, the characters, the story line, the mystery, everything was appealing to me.
For a short time I found the switching between first and third person to be annoying. However, given that the story had a story within this particular style made perfect sense and became appealing and an easy indicator of what was Vida’s story and what was Margaret’s story.
As far as characters go, I liked Margaret, though I was quite jealous of her in a way. Who wouldn’t want to practically live and work in a bookstore? And character that love books and love to read are always appealing to me no matter what the books setting or story is. Now I did find some parts of her less appealing but I cannot go into detail about these parts without given away some spoilers to the story.
It was Vida’s character and story that intrigued me the most. I loved the way that her story unfolded and the subtle hints she gave along the way made her true self a constantly unanswered question for a large portion of the book. Seeing her transformation as her story was told really gave her character an interesting twist. Sometimes I wondered if she was truly telling Margaret the truth or not, being a well known story teller and having admitted to lying about who she was to others in the past. The clues she gave along the way kept everything fresh but it was never enough to fully figure out the whole truth, which was a big appeal to me. The unknown, laced with small hints of what is to come, is extremely appealing to and kept me wanting to know more and more.
All the other characters throughout Vida’s tale of her life were an interesting mix. Some, such as Jon the Dig, Hester and Missus, brought a new angle to the story and at times I was questioning why they were doing what they did, yet knew their stories were tightly tied to the one Vida Winter was telling.
The writing of this story was beautiful. I was so deeply drawn into the words the author weaved, whether it was during Vida’s portion or Margaret’s. The end of Vida’s story was pleasantly shocking and while I had seen certain arts coming the actual mystery behind her identity was unseen.
Though I enjoyed the story as a whole, ignoring my initial dislike of the beginning, I also must admit that I did not enjoy the very ending of the story. I found that last bit with Margaret and what happened with her once again put a bad taste in my mouth, similar to what the beginning had done to me. However, I had seen something like that coming and so it wasn’t completely unpleasant.
While I had borrowed this book from a friend I will be buying a copy in the future for myself so that I can reread this story in the future. I would also highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. This is truly an amazing story and it was only the very beginning and very end that moved my rating from five stars to four.