Today’s review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Transgression by Frank Parker
Transgression by Frank Parker
3 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team
This is an intelligently constructed, fairly complex drama that deals with the changing social attitudes of England since the 1970s, written from the points of view of three main characters. It opens with Roger, who has written a book about a recently deceased soap star. He meets a young woman who claims to be the soap star’s daughter, which opens up old wounds and secrets from four decades before. Roger is forced to face up to his own guilt about his part in the cover up, which involved family friends and a local MP, and deal with the impact of the revelations on his own relationship.
The book covers many decades, with nostalgia-worthy details in each. I was a teenager in the 1970s, and this book did make me think about how far we have moved on in terms of prejudice and ‘the permissive society’, as it was called back in those days; sometimes for good, sometimes not so much. As the story goes on, suggestions of historic sexual harrassment are uncovered—very topical and sinister.
I found the subject matter quite interesting to read about; after all, soap operas and dramas themselves are so often based around hidden affairs and secret offspring; you can’t go far wrong with a bit of family intrigue of this type! I’m afraid, though, that I found it all a bit flat. The main problem was the dialogue; each character used similar vocabulary, tone, mood and rhythms of speech; I kept forgetting who was who because they all spoke in the same way, the dialogue being mostly used to deliver facts, as was much of the narrative, as opposed to telling a compelling story with atmosphere and emotion. A trait I’ve noticed in many self-published mystery type books with intricate plots is that characters have lengthy conversations in which they discuss the whys and wherefores of a situation, in order to impart chunks of information to the reader, but if the characters have not leapt off the page and become real people, it’s hard to care. I also felt that some of the references to social media and popular culture were a little forced.
Having said all that, the writing did improve when it moved onto the second character, Mabel, and more so again I reached the third, Douglas. The book’s other good point was that the plot strands worked together well; I didn’t find any inconsistencies or parts that weren’t feasible, a huge plus. To sum up – it was just okay for me, but I daresay readers who care more about a carefully constructed plot than character connection would enjoy it more.