In this first-person narrative, the absurd naivete of the orphan Esma, coupled with a cache of romance cliches (kidnapping, amnesia, ghosts, the adulterous wife and more), lends this tale a forced storytelling quality. Character motivations and personalities are blatant with no mystery or depth. Toombs never moves beyond stereotypical stock characters. The romance between
Esma and Stephen lacks intensity because there are too many problems competing for attention. However, the relationship between Esma and Alisette shines with genuine love.