Today we have a review from Helen
Helen chose to read and review Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson
This was a really enjoyable read, and it almost got another star from me – what held it back was it not being quite clear what sort of book it was meant to be.
The social setting, a Yorkshire village in the time of the miners’ strikes, was powerfully drawn, convincing, and, for me, enlightening – I’d never spent time thinking about the personal consequences of this particular issue, and it gave me a really vivid impression of what it might have been like.
And the central character was fantastic, in her determination and her finding of unlikely strength. I believed in her progress through the novel, and in the way she responded to events – she wasn’t just drawn and then kept solid through the action, but underwent real and complex changes in response to her situation.
So, two skilled and subtle parts to the book, but then the romance was a real turnoff for me. I just didn’t think it needed it – perhaps (at a push) we needed the part relating to the central character’s husband, but not the rest of it. I can see why you might think it was necessary – to give more “human depth” to the story, and to extend it – but actually I think it limited it, by pushing it into a genre that it could have escaped from. I don’t think there’s an issue with romance novels, but this was so much more ambitious in its premise that it seemed a shame to push it back into the box.
(Oh, and was quiche lorraine really so exotic, for someone who’d been reading all about cooking and new what pasta alfredo was?)