I've just finished this book, having devoted most of January to rereading the first four novels in the series. Perfect for this dreary time of year, I thoroughly enjoyed them all although the first, The Light Years, remains my favourite.
I think it was an amazing achievement on EJH's part to pick up all the threads from the previous books, after such a long gap and so late in her writing career, and re-involve us so effectively with her cast of characters.
Having said that, some aspects didn't quite work for me. I couldn't believe that Archie would fall in love with someone other than Clary; it was so at odds with how he's always been portrayed. Also, I struggled a little with the number of children appearing in the next generation and didn't feel their individuality was as well-defined as in earlier books.
I did like the portrayal of the various marriages, happy and unhappy, and the shifting relationships between the brothers; the tensions and the way in which the wives' feelings impinged on the sibling relationship. All that was cleverly done. I also thought that Sid's illness was well handled and the scenes between Rachel and Sid very touching. And Villy's struggle to do the best for Miss Milliment, and her grief at being misunderstood, was sensitively portrayed.
Generally, I felt it was less light-hearted than previous books, so possibly less escapist, but I'm glad I read it and would be interested to hear what others thought ..