A Lifetime Burning- Linda Gillard

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Greedy for experience but determined to be good, Flora Dunbar spends a lifetime seeking love, trying to build a future out of the wreckage of her past – an eccentric childhood spent in the shadow of her musical twin, Rory; early marriage to Hugh, a clergyman twice her age; motherhood, which brings her Theo, the son she cannot love; middle-age, when she finds brief happiness in a scandalous affair with her nephew, Colin.

“If you asked my sister-in-law why she hated me, she’d say it was because I seduced her precious firstborn then tossed him onto the sizeable scrap-heap marked Flora’s ex-lovers. But she’d be lying. That isn’t why Grace hated me. Ask my brother Rory…”


First off I suppose I should warn you that A Lifetime Burning is very different from Linda Gillard’s other books, Emotional Geology and Star Gazing. Although if speaking in loose terms you could say they are all about love. Although I really enjoyed the other two books they aren’t my usual style (as far as love stories go they are far superior to chick-lit books, and the writing is thoughtful and rather beautiful). A Lifetime Burning is more like something I would pick up. Actually having said that if I hadn’t previously known Gillard’s work I probably wouldn’t have looked at it in a book shop because of that front cover. The cover is actually the worst part of the book! It’s so unrepresentative, makes the book look like sci-fi rather than a story about ‘real’ life.

Character wise I didn’t really like Flora, who was the narrator. I found her selfish, and self centred. She didn’t really seem to care about anyone [highlight for spoiler]not even Rory really, she just wanted him for herself, no matter what. Rory was a little better, he at least seemed to show some care for others. My favourite character was Grace though, she stuck with her husband, and his family no matter what- I guess that could be seen as being a pushover but I saw her as more resilient, and forgiving. I did find it a little unbelievable after a point [spoiler]the idea of there being a whole two generations of children being involved in incest, plus 2 people from 2 generations previously. but then I changed my mind [spoiler]and decided that maybe it was meant to be genetic, Theo himself says as much. In a way that makes the subject less disturbing, like it was always going to be that way.

Such a shame this is no longer being published (my copy came from Linda Gillard herself). I think it could do well given the right marketing.



Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

9 responses to “A Lifetime Burning- Linda Gillard

  1. Pingback: Hoppity-hop-hop « Lucybird's Book Blog

  2. Thanks for your review, Lucybird.

    I quite agree with you about the cover! It was a last-minute re-design and I think it killed the book. I think they were trying to capture the supernatural element – ie Flora narrating the story from beyond the grave.

    The sort of cover I would have preferred ALB to have is this: http://tinyurl.com/3yyrp32


  3. lucybirdbooks

    I did think of that, but I don’t think focusing on that element was really the best idea. I suppose they had their reasons.

    And yes that cover is much better, more reflective of the type of book A Lifetime Burning is.


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