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Book Review

Off-Balance by Mary Sheepshanks - Book Review


Mary Sheepshanks
Arrow Books

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Isobel and Giles Grant seem to have it all - happily married with two adored children and a glorious house in Scotland, they are about to fulfill a lifetime's dream by launching the Glendrochatt Arts Centre.

But beneath the surface there are cracks which threaten to destabilise everything they've worked for. While their daughter Amy is bright and talented, her twin Edward is different, handicapped, backward - nobody knows quite what Edward is. And Giles's talent for manipulation occasionally threatens to provoke even sunny Isobel.

When Isobel's elder sister, Lorna, returns from South Africa - and a disastrous marriage - to take up residence at Glendrochatt, these cracks widen. For Lorna was once Giles's lover and she's determined to take him back.

We Say

Summarising Off-Balance in one word is easy - lovely. Warm, funny and intelligent, this book will make you laugh and cry. I assumed it would be a summer book, something to read on the beach but I was wrong. Keep it for a cold, wet, miserable day - make a cup of tea, curl up on the sofa and bask in its joyful spirit.

Everything you need for a truly good read is here in Off-Balance, written by Mary Sheepshanks. We have romance, intrigue, deceit, sibling jealousy, a magnificent setting (I defy anyone not to love Glendrochatt), a suitably evil 'baddie' and lots of lovely 'goodies'.

You will love Isobel, be charmed by Giles and desire David. As for Lorna, well, you'll want to boo every time she appears. The moment Lorna arrives in Scotland, she starts meddling in her sister's life, working towards her ultimate goal - destroying Isobel's marriage and happiness, whilst keeping Giles for herself. Slowly but surely, Lorna drips poison into the carefree Glendrochatt atmosphere, succeeding in driving a wedge between Giles and Isobel.

As communication between the married couple breaks down, you will find yourself entertained, and appalled, by a collection of vivid characters. There's Mick and Joss, the world's most unlikely nannies/handymen, imperious Dulcie, Isobel's two year old god daughter, who you will adore for commanding Lorna "Away, away. Back, lady, back" and the frightening Lady Fortescue, who suspects Isobel of being 'prone to frivolity' and of 'inappropriate displays of affection'. Each character has something, a quirk, making them stand out and impossible to forget.

Will the couple lose each other? Will the Art Centre be a success? Will Lorna's plan succeed? Will Isobel take up with the enigmatic David? I will say this, there's a nasty little twist but I'll let you discover it for yourself.

Review by: Kate Gordon

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