I read this on my way to Toronto a few weeks ago, and finished it in between standing in line for films. It’s not exactly fresh in my mind, unfortunately. I’m left with only impressions. First one is that I don’t think this is one of Barry’s best efforts. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, although that was tempered by my disappointment at the high expectations. I was struck with the sense that there were repetitions that seemed lazy. The prose didn’t stand out for me as his novels had in the past. I’d have to say that this is not Booker worthy – there were at least two others in this years competition that I thought were more entertaining (Derby Day and The Sisters Brothers). Maybe on a par with Alison Pick’s novel.
There’s this though. Barry really writes female characters incredibly well – better than his male characters. Why this is I couldn’t say, but I believe it is so. I’d still read anything he puts out.