“I read this book as a third choice by this author, as my library did not have either Tipping the Velvet or Fingersmith. I had been warned by other members of the Shelfari community that this novel is not Waters' best work, but I was willing to give it a try.
The book works backwards in time, starting in 1947, and ending in 1941. All of the characters are on the fringes of society as it was in the 1940's...there are a lesbians, a couple of conscientious objectors to war, a woman involved with a married man. All of the characters are loosely connected in one way or another. The structure of the book, in that it moves backwards in time, allows for many of these relationships to be elucidated.
I enjoyed the period detail of the book, its descriptions of life during and directly after WWII. However, I often found myself wondering when a particular chapter was going to end, and paging forward to find how long it was. This is never a good sign. I think if I wasn't the type of reader who always finishes a book, I would have given up on it.
Besides the tedium I experienced during the reading of this book, I also found that it was somewhat depressing. There seemed to be no hope for the characters in their time. Attitudes toward the situations that were in that time considered "the fringe" wouldn't relax for many decades to come. Perhaps this was part of the author's point.”