This writer has an incredible way with words. The story itself was a brilliant idea. A young slightly lonely and deranged girl finds a member of a German bomber crew on the Norfolk marshes during World War II and decides to kind of take him home and adopt him. He spends his time building a boat and apparently having sex with her, although as with the whole book this is treated vaguely. On the day their daughter is born, he sails off into oblivion in an attempt to return home. The daughter born of this union is as strange and confused as the people who have conceived her and the son eventually born to the daughter is stranger still. It could have been brilliant. The author has one of the greatest grasps of language I have ever seen.
There are many elements to a good book, and while prose, poetry and a good basic idea are necessary, it is possible to take these ideas too far. In other words, never use seven words when one will do. The reader of today is far from being less intelligent than the readers of the past, but they are much busier and do not have the time or patience required to read clogged and cluttered books. The book could have been one third its length and told the story much better. Each paragraph seemed to be a sentence stretched as far as it could be stretched.
By the time the book was over I was unclear as to what had actually happened, I was so lost in the muddled mind of the young boy and the constant descriptions of the same thing over and over again that I could not follow the story. One particular thing that was a bother, the grandfather was named Hans, which was turned into Hands by the grandmother early in the book. Throughout the rest of the book Hands continued to show up, it was like feet continuing to be used in sentences where it has no business being and it was terribly confusing.
All in all, the book was dark, brooding and laced with suicide and death. It spent much time discussing clouds and their meanings, but none of those clouds ever had a silver lining. I wanted to love this boy, he was a victim and cried out for the reader to love him, hold him, but he turned out dastardly and spoiled in the end. If I understood at all, he caused the death of several others simply because he was unhappy. There were no heroes, and there was no inkling of a happy ending or any moral that I could find. I simply felt sorry for every person in the story.
Would I read this book again? Probably not, but do not regret finishing it and will eventually get around to reading the author’s second book. Again, it was beautifully written.