Philosophy, Love and All the Other Big Stuff; Frozen Music. by Marika Cobbold (Phoenix, Pounds 6.99). Reviewed by Charlie Hill

Article excerpt

For the first part of this novel, there is a danger that its title - a reference to the art of architecture - could be too easily applied to its meticulously put together and rather semi-detached form.

Its construction resembles that of a show home, less of a place to live than a demonstration of what can be achieved with the careful application of the undoubtedly impressive technique that the author has at her disposal. It's not ostentatious by any means but it does lack a certain human touch.

From the mouths of babes - or at least a determinedly precocious 17-year-old heroine - come fillets of cod philosophy that don't quite ring true. 'To me, the law in a free society shows humans at their best'. . . 'It's not nature's law, or the law of the jungle, but a law that as often as not goes against those things, a law which is there, set up and adhered to, made to protect the individual and society from abuse. The way a court gives everyone a voice. The way self-interest and revenge are rendered powerless.'

On love, she is equally self-assured: 'And anyway, as I see it, all long-term relationships come under threat sooner or later. It really doesn't matter who you are, what age you were when you got together or even, to an extent, who you're with as long as you're good friends and have stuff in common because in the end it all boils down to much the same: you fall out of love. …