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Marilyn StasioLawton uses both scandals to elicit a good deal of thoughtful commentary (from Dame Rebecca West, among others) on what it all means to three generations of Britons trying to free themselves from one another's moral imperatives. Troy tends to frame his own ruminations in metaphors. And while repeated mentions of the distant sound of the "breaking string" at the conclusion of "The Cherry Orchard" do little to advance the solution of the murder mystery, the Chekhovian echo brilliantly captures the end-of-days significance of every sordid incident in this sprawling story.
— The New York Times