I finished reading Deborah Gregory's Dancing with the Dead last night and good though the plot and the writing were it has left a nasty taste. I'm not a maternal person at all and have no particular interest in children in general but I was horrified at the way the main character - Gill - treated her children. This was not something just brought on by living in an isolated and very strange house as there is a scene at the beginning where she loses her temper with her youngest child, Rosie and her husband steps in and calms the situation - obviously not for the first time.
The sheer spookiness of the whole thing with the letters coming apparently from the dead and later the ghosts at her elbow all the time is excellent. But I could have done without her ill treatment of her children. At times she went out of her way to be cruel to them even when they had done nothing wrong. Yes it gave evidence of her character and was similar to the treatment of her ancestors but the book would have been even better without it. To have shown her struggling with her urges but overcoming them would have been more telling in my opinion. There were times when I just wanted to get hold of her and shake her and tell her to get a grip and tidy and clean up the house instead of moping around, neglecting the children and regretting giving up her photography career.
It is a good book and I thought much of it excellently well done but the child abuse was just a step too far. I had thought it was set in the present when I first started reading it but about two thirds of the way through it became clear it was set in 1980 - this is actually crucial to the plot as mobile phones weren't around then.
I am still progressing with Barchester Towers, which is excellent, as well as a couple of other books which I will write about on here when I have got a bit further into them.