Curse Of The Second Novel

Over at the Independent, Catherine Taylor warns that those “eagerly turning” to Monica Ali’s new novel, Alentejo Blue, might “initially be appeased, but will ultimately feel disappointed.”

Ali’s bold style is apparent in flashes, but overall it lacks depth. The locals are just so much background: stereotypes who watch Brazilian soap operas all day or slide into doleful, platitudinous observations. Ali seems more confident with the English characters, but abandons them once their stories ignite a flicker of interest. The landscape is faithfully, if monotonously evoked. It is as if the major themes of Brick Lane – community, displacement, the telling of tales, passion, political undercurrents – have been awkwardly transplanted to another environment, where they cannot flourish.

You can read the review here. An alternative (and perhaps no more flattering) take on the novel can be found here.