It's the new university term among the dreaming spires. The start of a whole new life.
Meet Isabel, beautiful, clever, shy - and leaving home for the first time. Meet Olly, recently graduated, idealistic and a little hopeless, a man whose heart leads his brain and for whom opportunity just hasn't come knocking - yet. Meet Amber, the It girl who is soon partying with the fast set - and no-one is faster than Jasper de Borchy, glamorous leader of the notorious Bullinger club.
Meet the grown-ups: Diana, recently divorced mother-of-one, newly arrived in town to take up a post as college gardener - and Richard, the new college head, a widower, a scientist, and as lonely as some of the specimens he captures in his science lab.
The rich, the poor, the shy, the extrovert, the givers, the takers. Meet the Gifted and Talented.
Any additional comments?
This book grabbed me right from the beginning, I couldn't "put it down". I really felt invested in the plights of all of the characters. 4 main characters: Isabelle, college freshman, Diana, recently divorced, with new job, new neighborhood, new school for her daughter, Richard, recently widowed American, relocated to UK for a fresh start, Ollie, recent college grad, struggling to find his first "real" job in a depressed job market. There is an element of starting over for all the characters, but none turn out exactly as they expect. There are several other minor characters I fell in love with as well.
The only reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that the antagonist characters are a little over the top, unrealistically pure bad. If you get to the middle and find yourself irritated with how bad the "bad guys" are, stick with it, as the actual plot stays good till the end!
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I've really enjoyed many Wendy Holden titles over the years, but her books are definitely up and down. (eg I liked "Wives of Bath"; disliked "Marrying Up") and this story falls in the dislike pile. The satire in this outing feels tired and the story itself does not hold together very well. Something Holden usually does well is that even in an outrageous plot situation the characters motivations seem believable. In this book, Isabelle -- who is a central character -- creates very little tension in the choices she makes; she's an automaton. If she had been a more believable university student the entire book would have been more enjoyable.
What made the experience of listening to Gifted and Talented the most enjoyable?
Clearly, the superb reading of Suzy Aitchinson. She is one of the very best readers out there. I could almost listen to anything by her. She keeps the tale going.
Would you recommend Gifted and Talented to your friends? Why or why not?
Yes, if that person is looking for a light read. I did not find this one as hilarious as Bad Heir Day and farm one. Those had more social satire and were deeper in terms of plot.
Which scene was your favorite?
I suppose when the scheming divorcee gets her comeuppance at the faculty party. I also liked the interactions between the two families on the council estate.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
I can't answer questions like this as I do not go to movies or read about movies.
Any additional comments?
I would welcome a sequel to Bad Heir Day.