The Very Thought of You

Rosie Alison. S&S/Washington Square, $15 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-4516-1397-1
This overwrought debut chronicles the loves and losses that beset the intertwined lives of residents evacuated to an estate in Yorkshire, northern England, during WWII. The life of eight-year-old Anna Sands changes forever when she leaves London for Ashton Park, the home of Elizabeth and Thomas Ashton. A "bright and resourceful" girl, Anna becomes privy to the couple's disintegrating marriage; Elizabeth is bitter about infertility and Thomas has withdrawn into his own private grief, unable to connect to his wife. Alison's chosen omniscient point-of-view allows her to chronicle the stories of multiple characters and span whole epochs (1939–2006) which, combined with unconvincing characters, results in tedium. Anna as witness, for instance, is little more than a prop on which to hang rhetorical passages about solitude and happiness. Alison's writing is more than competent (this novel was shortlisted for the U.K.'s Orange Prize), but by summarizing much of her characters' feelings, she fails to engage the reader. This ambitious attempt to tell a meaningful story of the Second World War is ultimately as detached as the characters. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-385-67054-8
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-385-67053-1
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Paperback - 306 pages - 978-1-84688-086-5
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-1-84688-100-8
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4516-1398-8
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