Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Shuttered Life by Florentine Roth


Shuttered Life by Florentine Roth
First published as Der Duft von Bergamotte by Amazon Publishing in Germany in 2014. English translation by Jennifer Marquart published by Amazon Crossing in 2015.

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the ebook from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

How I got this book:
Purchased the ebook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'When her uncle suffers a heart attack, young Berlin photographer Elisa Westphal returns to her family home in Düsseldorf for the first time in many years. Relations have been strained ever since her father’s death, and Elisa finds the reunion desperately uncomfortable. It seems that everyone in town is behaving oddly, even her childhood crush. Is it simply old tensions reemerging, or is something more sinister at play? When Elisa begins receiving menacing notes, she sets to work narrowing down the suspects. As the dangerous incidents pile up, it seems to Elisa that someone is trying to chase her away. But who? And why?'

Shuttered Life is a short novel which I easily read in a couple of hours. It starts with our narrator, Elisa, being forced off the road while driving in a rainstorm. She doesn't know who deliberately drove their car into hers and our story jumps back in time to lead us round in a complete circle before we find out. We see most of the story from Elisa's point of view except for italicised glimpses of her attacker's thoughts. I wasn't convinced by this device as the thoughts are repetitive and I didn't think the language used was effective for ramping up tension. The Westphal family make for a pretty large cast. They all behave oddly leading each to be a possible suspect to Elisa, but none are actually presented as fully created characters so it was difficult for me to understand or empathise with their revelations and motives.

The whole book struck me as young adult because it is simply written. There isn't much in the way of description and, for me, far too much emphasis was put on Elisa's long-running crush on David. Incidents are too easily brushed off and opportunities to make more of the mysterious notes were squandered. Shuttered Life is an ok read, but overall I thought the whole book felt rushed and lacked atmosphere and excitement.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Florence Roth / Young adult / Books from Germany

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