Elm Tree Road
Anna Jacobs has a long track record. Some fifty novels, according to the dust jacket of this one, all presumably ticking the same boxes, pleasing her readership and satisfying her publishers. This novel, second in the series, follows the experiences of three sisters, Mattie, Nell and Renie. It opens in 1910, when they decamp from their brutal father’s home. Life is not easy for any of them and tragedy strikes Nell when a gas explosion kills both her husband and her young daughter.
With practised skill, the story unfolds within in a controlled, well-judged structure. The rather stereotyped characters react logically – there are few surprises here – and the resolutions to their various situations are satisfyingly plausible, conforming, one imagines, to the expectations of this particular readership. Details of time and place add to a convincing sense of period, but it is slightly disappointing when well researched, strong stories and potentially interesting characters are not developed in a more imaginative and challenging way.