The Clematis Tree, Paperback Book
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


'You want to go on reading, you want to know what happens; it isn't easy to put down' Ruth Rendell A powerful novel about a family, and how their lives are torn apart in a single, devastating moment.Mark and Claire seem an ideal couple.

He is an accountant, she the daughter of a successful businessman.

They live in a comfortable middle-class village in Surrey.

Then, during a party for their daughter Pippa's baptism, their son Jeremy is knocked down on the road outside.

It is their worst nightmare, something they thought could never happen, and the consequences will affect each one of them more than they could possibly imagine. What is Claire's guilty secret, and can her wealthy, self-made father help? Will Mark, desperate to escape, have the nerve to leave? And how will Pippa be affected by the turmoil that began on the day of her own christening?'A compelling story about the way a family copes with a catastrophe' THE TIMES'A delight, a very polished read' CATHOLIC HERALD'An accomplished first novel' TATLER'Humane, thoughtful' HARPERS AND QUEENS


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This is a book with an emotive subject matter, that of Jeremy, a severely brain damaged child. However, the writing doesn't really reflect this. None of the characters are particularly well-rounded, with the writer concentrating most of her story around Mark, Jeremy's father. Even he is an annoying character, although at least he has some character. I found that I cared nothing for the characters, or what happened to them throughout the course of the book. The book begins with a family christening, in which every member of the party is introduced, but not particularly well. Then we move on suddenly to years later in chapter 2, in which a description of a commute is given in far too much detail. This level of unnecessary detail is followed later with a description of a beach towel, and then a dissection of a bus queue! There were moments that really worked in this book, and the breakdown of a marriage is portrayed reasonably well, but there is a level of snobbishness on the part of the author (for instance, making assumptions about people because of their names) and lots of old fashioned, cliched characterisations. I would never have chosen to read this book if it hadn't been a book group choice. On the whole I tend to stay away from books by authors who are well known and successful in other fields as it sometimes feels like they are just 'having a go' at writing because they are more able to get published than an unknown writer. However, the storyline did sound interesting and I approached the book with high hopes, which were subsequently dashed by the end of chapter 1. All in all, a disappointing and somewhat annoying read.

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