There are three novels in this book one of which might have been good if overseen by an editor with a sharp scissors. That one would have been an antiques procedural; Lovejoy in Manhattan saying ' you don't get that sort of work any more and patina is not a girl's name'. However what we got was a cake with too much fruit that sank and moreover had a soggy bottom. I've read two comparisons to Dickens in reviews which is only intelligible as a hint from the publicist. The hype balloon broke free from its moorings and was lost to sight.
We are told in almost an afterthought at the end of the book that the flashback which is its core is based on notebooks which the writer has been keeping from his youth. If that were so why is the early part of the story so decidedly not in keeping with the mind of a thirteen year old boy. He knows the colour of his mother's eyes very precisely. Really. We are not told of his position on accent walls.
Troops of tropes: ...the breeze was as heavy as teakettle steam......polychrome edge between truth and untruth....
The smells, the shadows, even the dappled pale trunks of the plane trees lifted my spirits but yet it was as if I was seeing another Park beneath the tangible one, a map to the past, a ghost Park dark with memory, school outings and zoo visits of long ago.
It hovers between the real and, yes Holden, the phoney. High end trash is what it is, 771 pages in large format paperback. I finished it, as one does, more in hope than in expectoration.