I love Jane Hamilton, and this novel is masterful. It was very easy to read, and even when my interest in the story drooped, I kept going because it was so lovely to read. Hamilton is just so good.
Like other readers, I had trouble connecting with Walter, the main character. His story, about ambition without talent and surviving an adolescence in the shadow of his older brother's illness, was compelling enough, but Hamilton seemed to keep the reader at an emotional distance. Because Walter doesn't know himself well he must have been a difficult character to write, but other reviewers have pointed out that the tone of the book was so understated as to be flat. Too much restraint can leave the reader cold.
In the end I felt this book was missing something. It was good to read, but not satisfying. Despite Hamilton's skill as an author, I would not recommend this one.