You may remember my post on The Forgotten Garden, how annoyed I was that it kept jumping around. Well, I thought to myself, maybe I just haven't sat down for a solid amount of time to give the book a read. I'll still get caught up in it. But it's still happening that as soon as I get comfortable with the set of characters and time periods, she adds a new character and time period.
And there are other problems. The author seems to confuse blonde, strawberry blonde, and redhead as all one color. She doesn't seem to know the difference between identical twins and fraternal twins. She is completely lacking in subtlety. Take for instance the Swindell family. An obvious pun on swindle. Mrs. Swindell is the stereotype of a wicked "stepmother" as well as the stereotype of a grimy low class Victorian Londoner to a T. I just can't take Mrs. Swindell seriously.
Or take this line, another example of the author's blatancy: "The void that had opened so quickly she would spend the rest of her life trying to fill it." Don't let the reader do any of the work, don't dare let the reader figure out herself the emotional impact an event has on a character. Don't gently lead the reader to understand the character's motivations. Just say it straight out without any finesse.
Sigh. I like some of the scenes taking place in present time and in the 70s, and I'm curious about the mystery, so I haven't yet thrown the book across the room and had done with it.