Set in Chester at the beginning of the 1900s. As Alice tries to escape from her father’s clutches, Hannah is struggling with the consequences of her mother’s accident. Torn apart through circumstance, can the two girls ever be free of the weight of the past?
To be completely honest, I had really low hopes for this book. The person who bought it for me isn’t a reader, and non-readers are really bad at picking for books for readers. Sorry, but it’s true! The other book she got me was pretty terrible, so I expected this one to be the same. So really, we should be pretty excited this got a three star rating!
I read a fair bit of historical fiction, and the history part of this was written really well. Hannah (or Hanny) knew a girl fighting for women to get the vote, Alice was desperate to get married, and had an alcoholic/abusive father, etc. It was those little touches that made this book seem really real to me, and I love a book that gets me into their world. Most of the historical touches were pretty small though, it definitely wasn’t a major part of the book.
According to the blurb, the most major part of the book was the friendship between Alice and Hanny. But for a lot of the book, they weren’t actually speaking to each other… Always for good reasons, but still! Then it was always a big deal that they’d fallen out. If you’re going to write a book centered around friendship like that, you need to develop the friendship quite a bit first. I felt pretty let down by this book knowing that the friendship had so much potential. The friendship between their mothers was a lot more prominent, and one of them died, and the other was severely injured…
The other thing that let me down was the lack of emotions. This book talked about some really serious topics – rape, incest, abuse, alcoholism, death, physical trauma, etc. And physically, they really affected the characters. Kenny was mute because of his abusive parents, Hanny thought she was pregnant because her brother raped her, and that caused her to run away. Hanny’s mother had physical trauma so bad she nearly died, and that took up a lot of a focus from the book. But not for one moment did I actually care about the characters affected. I was interested in the events going on, because they’re interesting topics to read about! Except in most books, I would have cried. I should have cried! I should have been worried about these characters, terrified for their sanity and well being. In reality, though, I was bored. I had to force myself to pick this book up and keep going, for the sake of knowing how the events would all pan out. If you choose to write about emotional topics, you need to write emotionally.
I’m disappointed, because the writing wasn’t bad at all. It was just the characters that were one dimensional. Maybe Francis should stick to the history side of writing?