PositiveThe Times (UK)This book is full of tapeworm-like gems ... Eatherley has the unflagging curiosity of a Victorian explorer. The man seems to be indefatigable as he hacks away at Himalayan balsam (the pink, flowery weed that lines almost every riverbank in Britain) or goes on patrol for invasive signal crayfish in the River Barle. He’s not afraid to get wet, dirty or tired on his mission to get up close and personal with intruders of all shapes and sizes. It feels as if we are on the front line with him.
MixedThe Times (UK)I feel for Dilys ... However, McGlasson also expects Dilys to fulfil the function of \'cult tour guide\' for us. All the heavy lifting of this novel rests on her slender frame and, at times, she is simply not up to it ... I suspect that...the factual bedrock also inhibited McGlasson when it came to the plot and composition. The writing can be overly formal and, at times, downright opaque. Characters disappear abruptly, others are far too sketchy. The ending feels particularly patchy and unsatisfying. I wanted to know more, but that in itself is a sign of how fascinating this book is—and, as a debut, it is impressive.
RaveThe Times (UK)As is her habit, Strout dips in and out of other lives in Crosby, her acute observational skills often right up there with Austen’s. In a few chapters Olive merely flits through, an ungainly butterfly, but Strout does not stint on telling her full story and the ending is particularly satisfying ... The language, pure smalltown America, is glorious ... It is fascinating to watch as Olive grows into her eighties, absolutely livid at the idea that she may need to buy Depend incontinence underwear.
PositiveThe Times\"What fascinates throughout her 426-page book is the extent of [the Obama\'s] differences ... The first section, about [Obama\'s] childhood, is written with the clarity and descriptive power of a novel. I was riveted by the detail and family dynamics ... [Obama] is refreshingly frank about her shortcomings, including her inability to swerve from the appointed path. However, it is when Barack enters the picture that she starts to pull some punches here ... This is a vivid and interesting account and all of that is to her credit. I certainly thought better of her by the end: she has put her heart into this.\