This rambling book, which was sent to me for review as a historical novel, is set in 1991 and the ’60s. It contains no major historical reference in the backstory, such as the Suez Crisis, Macmillan’s ‘never had it so good’ speech, or the Bay of Pigs threat of world war. Only Kennedy’s murder appears.
An American girl, Addie, with a tragic but fascinating ancestry is left a big house in Surrey by a man she’s never met. In trying to find her antecedents she is bedded by three witnesses and endures attempted rape.
There are good characterisations of likeable people showing firm distinctions between middle class and country yokel types. Some of their names confused me. There was the heroine, Addie (purporting to be short for Adrienne, though Addie is a nickname for Adelaide, my mother’s name, and far too old for a girl in her late twenties in 1991); Ada, which is another shortening of Adelaide; Adrienne, Addie’s mother; and finally Adele. Confused? There are 26 initial letters to choose from.
This book has some excellent family dialogue, which races along most satisfyingly, but there are long, ponderous letters about university life, the tracing of family history, and endless diary entries written by Addie’s mother.
Writing-wise, it lacks polish and could do with a good edit to eliminate clichés and excessive adjectives and to link characters’ thoughts and actions to their spoken words.
This strikes me, in many ways, as an amateur novel, printed and published by an amateur book printer. I was irritated by the curly, laminated cover, poor design with tiny margins at top and sides, author’s chapter titles and bad pagination with blank pages.