I was given a review copy by the publishers after showing an interest. I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting and it definitely lived uI was given a review copy by the publishers after showing an interest. I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting and it definitely lived up to my expectations.
This is in a sense a coming-of-age novel, but it is also a retrospective. We are introduced to the character of Elaine who has returned to her family home to care for her father, after the death of her mother. We are made aware that Elaine hasn't been home for quite a while, and hasn't had much contact with them either because of something that happened in the past. Told through alternating past and present chapters, what happened in the past is slowly revealed, although it was left slightly open about what did happen and certain things were speculated but never directly answered, which I liked.
Called The Lives of Women the author reflects on how a young girl perceived the role of women in her small community, and how they interact with men. The men generally headed off to work each morning, whilst the women led more secretive lives. And the women had to keep secrets for fear of being shamed in society. The arrival of an 'artistic' American and her more causal attitude led to afternoon drinks parties, and growing sense of confidence, which I thought was to be dampened by the events later.
Overall this is a very enjoyable read. Difficult to not give too much away and spoil the story for other readers. Enjoy! ...more
I was pleased to receive a review copy from the publishers, Hesperus Press, and in return this is an honest review.
I liked the blurb for this book whI was pleased to receive a review copy from the publishers, Hesperus Press, and in return this is an honest review.
I liked the blurb for this book when I read it, and liked the idea that whilst the setting was wartime WW2 (or the days before) England, the story wasn't necessarily focused on the minutiae of war. Indeed this is a story, which is part family saga, part reflection/ time shift, and part mystery.
Cecily, the main character, is a young girl and we see her return to her family home in later years and she wants to understand how and why she was blamed for a family tragedy. The circumstances of the tragedy are slowly revealed over the chapter and the time shifts were used very well to weave the story back and form and gain an understanding of Cecily in later years.
The build up to the tragedy focuses on preparations for a tennis match, an event held by the family on their farm. Also living at the house is sister Rose who Cecily is desperate to be like, and who everyone thinks beautiful; Agnes, the mother, who blames Cecily for the tragedy; Agnes' sister Kitty who protects Cecily and spends time with the family on the farm, but keeps a flat in London and spends time of trips and meetings; the mysterious father figure, who adores Cecily and has a very mixed relationship with his wife. They are later joined by Tom, an evacuee, a character who becomes more noticeable when the story of the tragedy unfolds. Also key to the story are the Italian family, the Molinellos, who have lived in the UK a number of years but with wartime looming aren't sure where they belong; and the also mysterious Captain Wilson. Captain Wilson arrives during preparation for the tennis match, under the auspices of direction from Government to get an understanding of available agricultural land, in preparation for the possible war with Germany.
All is not as it seems, this is a family drama set at the eve of war, and we see double-dealing, secrets, lies, and simmering passions rear their head and have a devastating affect on the family. These themes are weaved together and slowly revealed. I loved some of the unexpected twists and turns.
This is a book to be read and savoured. It's educational (despite a background in History I wasn't fully aware of how the UK dealt with enemy aliens in WW2). It's beautifully written and I'm struggling to decide what to read next because nothing seems to have the same flow and quality of prose. I shall certainly be returning to read more books by the author.
Probably prefer this to The Gruffalo by the same author. My 18 month old is slowly getting into books and this is a nice one because it's about animalProbably prefer this to The Gruffalo by the same author. My 18 month old is slowly getting into books and this is a nice one because it's about animals, especially farm animals which she loves....more
thought provoking novel documenting the worst civilian disaster in WW2 England.173 people died in a shelter in the tube network, due to one person falthought provoking novel documenting the worst civilian disaster in WW2 England.173 people died in a shelter in the tube network, due to one person falling. the author has cleverly taken a fictional set of characters and weaves a story which is believable and makes you wonder what it would have been like there in the shelter....more