“What’s an escalator?”
This book was certainly interesting to read. It was incredibly character driven, so much so that there were points where I forgot character linkages. The relationship between the sisters Kate and Sally was well put across and it was rather endearing when Sally learns all about such modern conveniences as escalators and cinemas – something which she didn’t encounter growing up in working class Ireland.
Prior to the parts of the book set in World War II, the passing of time seemed, if anything, repetitive. Of course in that instance they focused more on the relationship between the sisters and their friend, Susie. The pre-war chapters existed just to have such an extreme opposition in narrative when war came along, while also putting across the unease as the actuality of war became undeniable. Bennett is good at describing scenes and can made the reader feel immersed in the story. The women were either good or bad. Never in between. The men (especially the romantic heroes and central protagonists) seemed too cookie-cut perfect to even appear vaguely tangible.
I wish I could shower this book in praise – it seems Bennett’s speciality is wartime Birmingham with a good dollop of ‘Blitz Spirit’. Unfortunately the twist near the end seemed completely out of the blue and completely random. Twists in the story like this are so boring and tedious. There was no development to it, and it was probably supposed to come across as lovely or something, but because it happened so close to the end of the book I just couldn’t really react to it sufficiently and as a result it left me feeling rather indifferent.
Of course World War II (and wars in general) are rather the florid topic for authors and my review of this book is not a criticism of the author or a criticism of the person who gave me the book. It is just my thoughts. If you like World War II fiction, then read this by all means. Despite my criticism, it would be rather interesting to perhaps have a sequel to this one because it would be good to see what happened to the characters.
MY RATING: **.5 / *****