REVIEW: THREE BROTHERS, BY PETER ACKROYD

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Their lives began in the place that came to define them: Born in Camden Town, in London, in a council estate, in the Mid-Twentieth Century.

Three Brothers: A Novel tells the tale of Harry, Daniel, and Sam Hanway, born one year apart on the same date (May 8); their distant and distracted father is scarcely a presence in their lives. They are also affected by the mysterious and unexplained disappearance of their mother Sally. Sam is the most strongly affected, apparently, but the actions of the other two speak of how the event informed their lives as well.

Coming to adulthood in the 1960s, they live completely separate lives, with Harry as a Managing Editor of a newspaper; Daniel is a lecturer at Cambridge, who also reviews books; and Sam as a compassionate man strangely drawn to the homeless and seemingly finds his path through doing good deeds.

As separate as they are, they are also connected in various ways, seemingly coincidentally. This story of corruption, bribery, and violence is narrated from the perspectives of each of the brothers. In the end, we see clearly how place and history have defined them.

A few mysterious elements left me dangling at the end, forced to come to my own interpretations of events. The character studies and the descriptions of the settings drew me in, but otherwise, the story left me cold. 3.5 stars.

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