AUTHOR: ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD
I can't help wondering if the author was being cynical when she decided on the title for this story. A title like "Love All" would lead me to expect a story in which love plays a big part with some sort of happy ending. And although love, the feelings we mistake for love, the things we do for love and the lack there off is very much the subject of this story, a happy ending is nowhere to be found.
Another problem with this book was that it had more characters and therefore more story lines than it needed in my opinion. As a result some of those story lines were underdeveloped and unresolved or only partly resolved by the end of the book.
There are main characters though, and although I wasn't happy with the way the book ended for any of them, their stories are well developed and engrossing.
Set in the 1960's this book opens with Percy deciding to accompany her aunt Floy on a gardening assignment in Melton. Percy's life is pretty much on hold since she's resigned her job and her affair with a married man ended, so a change of scenery seems to be just what she needs.
In Melton the two women work for Jack, a very rich and socially somewhat inept man.
Also in Melton are Thomas and his sister Mary. Mary has been looking after Thomas and his young daughter Hatty for some years now, ever since Thomas' wife Celia died leaving him devastated. Also sharing their household is Francis, Celia's brother.
With the exception of Floy, all these characters are at a point where they have to make decisions about their futures, what they want from life and where their priorities and loyalties lie. Ties are severed, hearts are broken, love is found and lost and losses endured.
But by the end of the book it's hard to see how any of the characters is better off then he or she was when the story started except maybe for Percy who appears to have at least grown up some.
It is of course possible that that was the message of this book to begin with and that just because I wanted a fairy tale doesn't mean that I will receive one.
Mostly the characters in this story and their actions frustrated me, and made me want to slap some sense into them. But then, the fact that the book made me react so strongly towards the characters only goes to prove how well written and engaging it was.
Definitely a book that left me with mixed feelings when I turned the final page; I had finished a story that fascinated me from start to finish and had left me unsatisfied as far as the ending was concerned.