Review No.203 – The Rathbones

The Rathbones – Janice Clarke

Doubleday, 2013

The house of the Rathbones has been built in layers, each generation laying down a new foundation of mortar and secrets. Secluded within these walls with her distant mother and her distracted cousin, Mercy Rathbone knows almost nothing about her family. Her father sailed out of her life a long time ago; her brother disappeared so completely that now no one will acknowledge he ever existed. Then one night she witnesses a secret that sends her running from the house, out to sea – where the answers she seeks lie in wait.

The start of this book has a dreamily enigmatic feel that promised good things. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last. The plot is meandering and directionless, bogged down in extraneous detail; character interactions are inexplicable, unexamined and unspeakably depressing. I soon came to dread the entrance of new female characters – this is not a book that treats its women well, and what’s worse, never analyses the terrible things that happen to them, or even treats those things as significant. Judging from the glowing blurbs on the back of the book, there are many people who got something wonderful out of The Rathbones, but I am definitely not one of them.


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