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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

All Tell And No Show

The Very Thought of You - Rosie Alison

I generally enjoy novels set during the Second World War. It's a period when stakes were high and when British society was struggling to reshape itself in the face of imminent catastrophe. So when I saw that this story took place in a stately home converted into a school for evacuees, run by a couple whose marriage was under terrible strain after he had become crippled by polio, I thought it sounded as if it might be a good read.

Unfortunately, this wasn't for me. The narrative seemed to have only one pace and there was altogether too much tell and not enough show. I also wasn't engaged by the way dialogue was conveyed. There were hardly any real conversations. Instead, there were a number of sketchy summaries of attitude and opinions. Finally, the viewpoint was constantly changing so that I found myself asking whose story this was meant to be.

I suspect the manuscript needed more editing than it received and that there was at least one more stage that it needed to go through before becoming a really good novel. But I didn't finish the book. So this isn't a fair review. Perhaps it improved after I gave it up.