Saturday, 6 October 2007

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

Second Glance
Jodi Picoult
Hodder & Stoughton

PICOULT can weave a piquant tale, but this time she's let herself down.

Second Glance is a ghost story, the middle section of which is told by the main ghost, a wimp who makes one's spectral toe itch to give her a swift boot in the ectoplasm.

The story is also riven by a timezone flaw. The modern characters are haunted by ghosts from the American eugenics era of the 1930s. But Lia, the 1930s ghost, reads like someone from the 1890s.

At one stage she has a little timeslip, and slides into the new millennium, where she's astonished as a boy with wheels on his feet whizzes past her.

Well, Francis Stuart once told me that in the roller-skating-crazed 1930s the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire was a roller rink, where you could race around and around behind the hanging screen on your skates as a film was projected onto the screen.

Picoult's basic idea is interesting - after all, the American eugenics theories were what inspired Hitler and his mates to try to wipe out a whole section of humanity, a fact which has been conveniently forgotten.

But the storytelling is tired, and Picoult isn't in her usual rattling good form.

xxx stars

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