Wednesday, 4 September 2013


If books were chocolate, the last one I read - Stoner - would be three crisp, snappy squares of bitter Valrhona to be nibbled on and savoured.

And this one would be an over-large bar of Galaxy, consumed in naive belief that calories don't count if you gobble it fast enough.

It was a pleasant, quick read that will linger in my mind at least until I start thinking about putting tonight's dinner on. On the face of it, it's a charming idea, an epistolary love affair between a young, married poet living on a croft on Skye and an impetuous young American lad who becomes an ambulance driver in WW1.

But I didn't believe in them, didn't believe in their voices, especially hers, didn't believe even in the mechanics of the story, ie that her poetry would have made anything like enough money for her to go gadding off to Paris and London hotels. Would a crofter's daughter in 1913, who had never left Skye, ask someone if they had started writing the Great American Novel?

Perhaps this is best left to American readers. It's an American author, an American publisher - and, as Cornflower said when she reviewed it, many readers won't be troubled by the niggles. Jessica Brockmole, who comes from the Midwest, spent a week on the Isle of Skye and started scribbling notes in the car on the way home. Maybe I'm being mean. I wouldn't have bothered reviewing it, except I'm tied to my desk waiting for someone to come out of a meeting.

7 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

In which case, I shall not bother to read it.

I have, recently, been enjoying Lillian Bwckwith's Hebridean sotries, nothing out of place in her books as long as you don't expect great literature.

mary said...

Actually, it would be just right for a Richard & Judy summer read, Toffeeapple, if R&J are still going, I'm not sure.
I've never tried Lilian Beckwith ... they do rather have that old ladies' library book appearance!

lyn said...

I had a similar reaction to you but I think I liked it a little more! I felt that the epistolary style was a bit clunky & some of the plot twists at the end were unbelievable. As you say, a pleasant read but not a great one.

mary said...

I didn't dislike it, Lyn - but like you say, it's clunky and somewhat far-fetched. I do think that it could have been greatly improved by a more exacting editor. But, hey, it's been sold in 22 countries ...

Noelle the dreamer said...

You have me intrigued none the less Mary and I will check it out!
I still puzzle daily at what constitutes literature these days...and as you said, it was sold in 22 countries...Oh well, Cheers Dear! Thanks for the input!

mary said...

Maybe one to get out of the library, Noelle - it's not a keeper!

Cornflower said...

Yes, I agree, if you're looking for a pleasant, undemanding read - and you're not wearing your critic's hat - it's fine, but I was disappointed by the slack editing.