Cover image for Off balance
Off balance
Sheepshanks, Mary.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books : St. Martin's Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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From the author of A Price for Everything and Picking Up the Pieces comes a moving and uplifting story of a perfect marriage on the rocks. To all appearances, Isobel and Giles Grant have it all until Isobel's older sister, Lorna, returns from South Africa. For Lorna was once Giles's lover, and she is determined to win him back.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A long-held sisterly grudge threatens to destroy a loving Scottish family in this country-house family drama. Glamorous divorc‚e Lorna returns from South Africa to summer with sister Isobel and Isobel's husband, Giles Grant, at their Scottish estate, Glendrochatt. The Grants are planning to establish an arts center on the premises, and Lorna is officially engaged to help out; unofficially, she is focused on enticing her erstwhile lover, Giles, away from Isobel. Lorna, always beautiful but never as well loved as her charismatic sister, is desperately bitter and determined to seize her share of happiness. Complicating matters further is the presence at Glendrochatt of a sexy young painter, Daniel Hoffman, who has his eye on Isobel. The Grant children, 11-year-old twins Amy and Edward, sense the heightening tension, and semi-autistic Edward is particularly troubled by his aunt's presence. Colorful secondary charactersÄmuscular babysitter-workmen Mick and Joss and locals like Dr. Connor and eccentric Lord Neil DunbarnockÄlend the novel a pleasant air of British farce. The focus, however, is on the romantic drama, which involves much strategic maneuvering and little true passion. The characterization of cold, scheming Lorna as a soap-opera villainess unbalances the story, though given the cozy insularity of the privileged Scottish community she pits herself against, the reader will be tempted to root for her. Sheepshanks (A Price for Everything; Picking Up the Pieces) steps away from the lighthearted comedy of her first few novels, but she is at her best when she allows humor to lighten her perceptive tale of human frailty. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Those who've come to expect laugh-out-loud humor from British author Sheepshanks (Picking Up the Pieces) may be disappointed by its absence in her fourth novel. Nevertheless, this provides some of the trademarks of her first novel, A Price for Everything: a look at upper-middle-class life (this time in Scotland, not Yorkshire), an old manor house, a loving marriage beset by tensions, and the intrusion of romantic interests for both husband and wife. Here, Giles and Isobel are in the midst of refurbishing the theater Giles's father had built and coping with their young twins, one a budding violinist, the other afflicted with physical and mental disabilities, when Isobel's divorced sister, Lorna, returns from South Africa and sets her sights on Giles, her onetime lover. Meanwhile, Isobel is drawn to the artist commissioned to do the backdrops for the theater. Though readers may find Lorna's bitter jealousy of Isobel and petty attempts to ruin her marriage too soap-operaish, and the ending too rushed, this is still good fare for those who like British slice-of-life novels. Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.