Birdcage Walk - Helen Dunmore

October 29, 2018

4 / 5 Stars


Beautifully written, but I wasn't quite sure what this book wanted to be.

My mother-in-law bought this for me, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect - but as someone living in the south-west (UK) I was intrigued by the Bristol connection, so was looking forward to getting stuck in.


It's mainly about Lizzie, who is married to a builder called Diner, though she seems more keen to keep going back to her mother's house to spend time there. Her mother is pregnant by a revolutionary type called Augustus - and this is definitely a theme within the book; that inner tussle that Lizzie experiences between the traditional values of her husband and the progressive views of her mother and step-father.

It has a dark story at the core of this book, but this is perhaps the aspect I struggled most with; as it seemed oddly removed from the rest of the story. Indeed, the big reveal at the end seemed almost a bit incidental, though afterwards I did think 'oh yes, I see, that explains a lot'. I'm not putting my finger on the problem really, but for me, it didn't quite gel. 

However, Dunmore wrote beautifully, there's no doubt about that; with sensitively portrayed characters and impressive attention to historic detail (though the baby's pap feeder was over-mentioned somewhat) - and I was definitely 'involved' with it all. 

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