I...just cannot shake the "already seen" feeling. Yes, a lot of literature is basically the retelling of the same old story, but the storyteller has to add something new to intrigue the audience. This book didn't intrigue me in the least. The lone part that stirred my interest - and consequently, one of the few that remain in my memory - was the one about father being "airy", perpetually floating and distant.
I felt this book was not unlike this father - like air. Maybe the idea was to make it like perfume. But perfume is still heavier than the air, it lingers and stirs something in people. It leaves a mark, even if it lasts but a few seconds before it vanishes. I am not sure words of this book left even that long an effect on me.
Maybe it's partially because of different perceptions of sexuality. No, I do not mind subtle and unspoken. But here, it's way too ephemeral. Too stylised, if you will. All pretty, cliched metaphors, but nothing that strikes a single chord and makes me remember my own experiences. It's like a painting of what ideal sexual awakening should be like - the kind that is put on pedestal, but no one really experiences. At times, it's so heavily stylised it's borderline insincere and unrealistic. The final act of surrender felt so rushed, almost tacked on. And then things were brought full circle to a few flashes forward to narrator's "current" love troubles. I think this further development of her character's eros would have been better off left out or expanded. Granted, we have the maturity already represented via the narrator's mother, but it is firmly established that they are very different persons, with different sexuality.
This is not to say that this is a bad book. As far as the prose goes, it's vastly better than those books where I've "already seen" the things that are repeated here. But, unfortunately, just lovely writing is not enough for me. If we were going just on pure craft and literary values, this book would be "five stars". But I consider the ability to intrigue the reader an important quality as well, and I just cannot feel any stronger about than than "nice".