I've been reading this for ages, becuase it's all short stories it's something that you can pick up and put down without worrying that you'll forget what's already happened. There is a vague link between the stories and there will be vague references to things that have gone before but not so much so that it'll be a problem if you've forgotten something.
As with anything that's a collection of short stories there are some that are better than others, and there's quite a selection here, some are happy, some are sad and personally, one that really freaked me out, I don't know why exactly but one of the stories really got me and it took me ages to get to sleep after reading it.
The general premise of the book is that it's set in the village of Notwithstanding and basically tells the tales of many of the people that live there, mostly concentrating on their little habits and foibles. Some characters re-appear, albeit briefly, in other characters stories, and others are only ever side characters. Personally I really wanted a story about the mad nuns but they never made it to centre stage, they were always just careering round corners far to fast with little regard to other road users, but I really wanted to hear more about them.
I did enjoy it, although as I say, some more than others, although, having read it I don't think that I'd bother going back to it to read it again. If you've read anything else by Louis de Bernieres then this might come as a slight surprise to you, if felt very different to anything else that I'd read by him, not quite so lyrical, although that doesn't necessarily make it worse, in fact I found this much easier to read than previous books.