SECOND OPINION: Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Review published on June 28, 2017.

It quickly becomes obvious that Siracusa is not going to be the story of an idyllic holiday in Sicily… Two couples, who are occasional friends, Michael & Lizzie and Finn & Taylor decide to go on holiday together, along with Finn and Taylor’s 10-year-old daughter Snow. We know from the beginning of the novel that the holiday ends in tragedy but we are kept guessing about the nature of it as divisions arise in a tangled web of betrayal, deceit, jealousy and disappointments. The story is told very effectively from the perspectives of Michael, Lizzie, Finn and Taylor as they take alternating chapters to look back in hindsight at their view of the events that took place.

I found that the characters were drawn with a fairly broad brushstroke, for example, Finn, as the fickle charmer who is serially unfaithful and unreliable; his wife Taylor, as a neurotic and obsessive mother whose life revolves unhealthily around her daughter Snow. The differing characters made the dynamics of the holiday interesting but unfortunately none felt likeable enough to empathise very deeply with. Snow is an unusual character from the beginning, an odd child with unnatural composure who quietly observes, and interestingly as there is no chapter from her perspective we have no way in to her thoughts.

The book is detailed in describing the dialogue and interactions between its characters but the multiple viewpoints also expose the thoughts that sit behind the actions and the ever present veneer of pretence. As the character of Kath unexpectedly arrives, the events build to a climax and there is a sense of things unravelling as Snow starts to act more strangely and the adults behave in an increasingly reckless way. The novel is compelling and quick to read as we move ever nearer to the looming tragedy at its heart.

Louise 4/4

Siracusa by Delia Ephron
Point Blank 9781786071545 pbk May 2017

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