Reviewed by: SingleEyePhotos
Genre: Literary Fiction
Approximate word count: 50-55,000
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Kate Rigby has been writing for over 30 years and has several traditionally published books to her credit. She studied psychology at the University of Southampton, although Rigby no longer works in that field. R currently lives in Devon. Details on her work can be found on Rigby’s website or on her blog.
Seaview Terrace is a cul-de-sac of twelve multi-family houses. The apartments are inhabited by a random assortment of people – old and young; happy and sad; comfortably off and just making ends meet; British and foreign. The inhabitants of this little world go through their lives affecting, and being affected by, their neighbors, for better and for worse.
The basic premise of this book is quite good – it’s what I like to refer to as a ‘fly on the wall’ view of ordinary people going about their lives. Like lives everywhere, these have their share of positives and negatives and surprising moments as the various players interact. As a fly’s-eye view of modern (lower) middle-class British society, it is most likely very true to life. The main characters run the gamut from perpetually out-of-work misanthrope Warren and his downtrodden girlfriend Maxine, genteel Joan and snobbish Cynthia; workaholic Trish and gypsies Iz and Oz; gay partners Guy and Mark; wealthy real estate mogul Hassan and his family… all walks of life and personalities end up in Seaview Terrace.
This is not a story with a defined beginning, a linear plot, and a nicely wrapped-up ending. It’s just the story of these people’s lives and how they interact and react. It covers approximately 9 months of a year – from spring through the beginning of winter. At the end, everyone living in Seaview Terrace has been touched by change – some for the better, some for the worse.
I personally found this to be a very negative book – none of the characters were portrayed as likeable people, and I felt that their attitudes and opinions were very shallow and petty, as well as prejudiced. There wasn’t a single character that I’d like to know, nor could I sympathize with them, although I do feel that the representation was very true-to-life. This most likely just underscores the cultural differences, and if anything, shows us the author’s ability to create believable (albeit unlikable) characters.
There are a couple of things that should be noted. First, this book is written in the third person present tense, which I personally find very difficult to read, though tastes may vary, of course. Second, there is a great deal of prejudice shown throughout the book – mostly racial/ethnic, but also homophobic – by various characters. None of it actually crosses the line to being totally inappropriate, but it does play a large part in storyline.
Uses UK spelling conventions and slang.
None noted except for the fact that new chapters did not start on a new page. At the end of the last paragraph of a chapter, there would be several spaces, then the next chapter heading.
Rating: *** Three stars