Take a work-from-home dressmaker, an Irish dancing costume, an adulterous client and a very long Auckland blackout and you pretty much get this book, The Last Days of the National Costume. The premise is intriguing, the characters and their relationships with each other hold such promise but the execution left me extremely disappointed and at times downright annoyed. Sometimes I felt like screaming at this books, “For God’s sake, just get on with it!”
To be quite frank I loathed the writing style from about fifty pages in. It was pretentious and just trying to damn hard to be clever when it wasn’t necessary. The story dragged to the point of utter frustration and although I finished it (I’d given up on too many books lately and my reading challenge was slipping) it was painful to the end…. which was also pretty ordinary.
There was one highlight though, one thing that suggested that Anne Kennedy had a better book than this in her (and perhaps she has produced that before or since). The tales of the client’s childhood in Ireland, with the desperate poverty and religious divisions, were wonderful. She captured his voice and his story so much better in these sections than she did anywhere else with any other character. Such a pity she didn’t assume this low key, plain speaking approach to the rest of the story.
Obviously not one I’d be recommending, only two and a half stars from me. But I’ve got something special coming next week. And as always, I’m interested in what you’ve all been reading lately to add to my must-read list.