MixedThe New York Times Book Review... sometimes lovely, sometimes infuriating ... Tillyard is a wonderfully spacious writer, and in brilliant biographies like Aristocrats she gives her knowledge room to breathe. But readers need a different kind of attention in fiction. Jan and Eliza’s connection has huge significance since this twist of the novel’s plot does what riots and resistance did in historical fact, but their love story is thin. We don’t have much opportunity to imagine it when we’re in a museum display ... the past keeps surfacing, but it’s full of arbitrary things ... Everything could have a footnote ... Tillyard is a lovely writer, and at times she can take your breath away, but she might sometimes need to leave things out. Her storytelling would have the room it needs to sing.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewJohn Preston’s subtle novel The Dig imagines something even more remarkable: an excavation that carefully, gently exposes the searchers’ own lives and feelings to the light, just as they brush sand away from buried treasure. He has written a kind of site report that shimmers with longing and regret ... Preston loves the procedural, and it gives his story an understated energy ... Preston writes with economical grace. He shows the start of love delicately and also its failure. He is witty about the true English vice, which is pointless, pompous snobbery. He never stresses; he allows his people to live. He lets nightingales sing sadly without training them to be metaphors. He has written a kind of universal chamber piece, small in detail, beautifully made and liable to linger on in the heart and the mind. It is something utterly unfamiliar, and quite wonderful.