I finished reading this Kindle book yesterday and have been puzzling over how to review it ever since. Previously I've read, reviewed, and loved four of Gillard's books. In fact, I ranted about how they are categorized as romances since I don't normally like romance novels and felt that her books are so much more than that.
This book was technically difficult to write as it is not told chronologically, nor is it told in one long flashback. It begins with the death of one of the main characters and then the story is told in bits and pieces jumping from year to year, back and forth, to fill in what happened. I do believe this was the best way to tell such a complicated story because it is easy to follow and you understand the motivations of the characters better this way.
The two main characters are twins Flora and Rory Dunbar, and my problem is with those characters. Gillard's forte is characterization. In her other books I was totally taken with her heroines. With Flora, though, I mainly want to just slap her silly. Flora's passionate love for one man is too much for me to believe, and it doesn't have anything to do with who he is, rather that she is unable to function in any sort of a life without him. Her husband, on the other hand, is just too good, too understanding, too gentle to be believed. And her twin, Rory? He is a brilliant pianist who is forgiven anything because of his genius, but he goes from horrible to kind so fast my head spins.
I hate writing criticism of an admired author's work; in fact, I considered just not reviewing A Lifetime Burning at all. In the end I decided that friendship or no, admiration or no, I must review honestly because that's my job as a reviewer.
I'm certainly not saying this isn't a good book. What I'm saying is that this book is written beautifully and most people are going to be absolutely fascinated with the story. As an aside, it has been getting rave reviews on Amazon.com and on other blogs. All I'm saying here is that after beloved books such as Star Gazing, Emotional Geology, and Untying the Knot that touched my heart, I'm disappointed in this latest book from my friend, Linda Gillard.