For the first 2/3 of this book, I was set to rate it two stars, despite being the winner of the Whitbread Award and a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, but the final third raised my rating to three stars. At its most basic, the story revolves around a young woman, Amber, who arrives unexpectedly at a family's summer cottage in rural England, is taken in by the family, manipulates each membr of the unhappy Smart family, wreaks havoc in their interrelationships, and the disappears just as abruptly. The writing is delicious. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different person in a stream of consciousness style. The best example is Amber relating her autobiograpy by invoking scenes from classic movies and linking those movie references into a seamless explanation of her view of life. Ali Smith is equally effective in telling the story from the point of view of each of the characters. And the impact the absent Amber has on the lives of the family draws all of the various themes together into a satisfying whole.