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Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Philip Snowe is respected in the world of advertising, but in a bid to spend more time with his family, he has sold his business. He now spends more time at home to be with his wife, Julia and their teenage daughters, Anna and Rose as well as helping out a few good causes. Julia is a successful lawyer for a New York firm and while she and Philip are wealthy now, she was brought up on a rough council estate and wants better for her girls. But while Anna is studious, her younger sister relies mostly on her beauty to get by.
Laura Cusack has met Julia and Philip at the school their daughters attend, but it isn’t until she finds herself on the chair of governors of another school along with Philip that she really gets to know him. Laura is a single mum to twin girls, Eliza and Alice and is struggling to fit her passion for painting into her schedule.
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With Philip and Laura’s lives entwining, the Snowe family dynamics begin to change.
Fragments begins with a prologue where there is a funeral taking place a few days before Christmas. Although the prologue is only five pages long, I really struggled with it. It was drawn out and overly ambiguous. I suspect the reader is supposed to be drawn in and eager to find out who is being buried and what happened to them, but I wasn’t inspired to read on at all and all it really did was leave me with a feeling of dread of what was to come. If those five pages had left me feeling bored, how was I going to get through several hundred more? Luckily the rest of the novel didn’t follow suit and was much more readable.Although I enjoyed the writing much more after the prologue, I did still struggle as I found a lot of the characters unlikable. Julia has an air of superiority about her and I took an instant dislike to her. I also didn’t warm to Laura either as I found her to a weak character. She was ruled by her daughters and her overbearing mother and I was constantly willing her to stand up for herself more. She was such a pushover that it became annoying. But by far the most unpleasant character for me was Julia’s youngest daughter. Fifteen-year-old Rose is so manipulative and thinks that she can coast through life because she happens to be beautiful. The only character I was even remotely interested in was Anna, the older daughter. Anna has always worked hard and is due to start studying at Cambridge, but she has a secret that she has been keeping from her family. I liked that on the surface, Anna was the ‘good’ one, the one who was hard working and had a bright future ahead of her while underneath there is a darker side.
Overall, I thought the writing was good but I couldn’t really enjoy the book as the characters were mostly unlikable and irritating.