RaveThe New York Times Book Review... although the mystery of the virgin birth drives the plot along, it becomes an almost incidental backdrop in a novel that is quietly affecting in unexpected ways ... Again and again characters choose over happiness, as Chambers examines, sympathetically and incisively, how much self-sacrifice people should bear at the expense of their personal freedom ... The most captivating glimpse of Jean’s oppressive self-denial comes during a weeklong trip with her mother to a coastal town, where they are stranded indoors along with other hotel guests during a heavy rain. The holiday is depicted with such sharp hilarity, including scenes of the endlessly complaining elderly Mrs. Swinney, it could be unfolding in a Jane Austen drawing room ... After sensitively elucidating her characters’ private hopes, Chambers proceeds to crush them in a series of cruel little twists ... With discreet wit and dry humor, Chambers captures the hypocrisy of an era that was so punitive for women ... Chambers reproduces the everyday minutiae of postwar British suburbia, from a dust-colored wool skirt to a pudding made of tinned pears and evaporated milk. Her language is beautiful, achieving what only the most skilled writers can: big pleasure wrought from small details.