Book Review: The Parrots by Alexandra Schulman

I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but that’s what first attracted me to The Parrots. That, and it being written by Alexandra Schulman, editor of Vogue magazine.

It took me a little while to get into this book. The writing style is different to what I’m used to, and there are quite a few characters to keep track of. However, the foreword, set in July, ends in suspense, and the following chapters take us back to the previous September, where we trace the events leading up to that moment. Although the plot didn’t exactly have me hooked, that opening cliff-hanger did its job, and I was intrigued enough to keep reading.

The rest of the storyline centres around a married couple both embarking on their own predictable affairs, and it somehow feels like the characters aren’t quite fully developed for the reader to really get immersed in their lives.

WIN_20150903_201454Overall, the plot seemed to jump around a bit from place to place and character to character, and I feel that if I would enjoy this more if I were to read it a second time. After almost reaching the end of the book, I was struggling to find any connection between that first cliff-hanger chapter and any other events, so couldn’t hazard a guess at the ending, which I guess is a good thing.

The tag line on the cover ‘outsiders see things others don’t’ implies there’ll be more to this story than there actually is. I can only assume that the outsiders referred to are Antonella and Teo, the Italian children of an old school friend of Katherine’s (the leading lady) who visit London, but if that’s the case I would like to have seen more mystery surrounding these two. Similarly, I can kind of get the imagery of the parrots referred to in the title (in that they don’t quite belong in their surroundings, like Antonella and Teo) but I think so much more could have been made of this to tie the whole book together.

The concluding chapters bringing us back into July are fairly short, and I would have liked to see more pages dedicated to the climax the entire story has been working towards. The ending was slightly disappointing. It was never going to end well for any of the characters, but in a storyline filled with deceit, I thought it would end with more of a bang.

The other thing I wasn’t keen on throughout this book is the constant references to Twitter, Netflix, Instagram and the like, presumably to ensure the reader knows that this novel is bang up to date, but I felt that these were unnecessary, and puts a definite date stamp on the novel, preventing it from being a timeless classic like so many great books are.

I’m conscious that this sounds like a negative review, but that’s not my intention as I actually did enjoy reading this, and I’m a huge fan of the author’s work at Vogue. The detail and background given to the characters is genuinely interesting, and if anything, the book could have done with being longer in order to draw on this more.

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