1950s family drama
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On Amazon.com HERE
Now, this is what I love to see ~ a sequel that is better than the first! Ideally, writers should improve on their craft all the time, even if they do so without realising; I've read a few books from series this year and been pleased to find this the case, every time, and particularly so with this novel.
Pattern of Shadows followed the fortunes of the Howarth family in working class northern England during WWII; Changing Patterns takes the story into 1950. I read this book over a period of about 48 hours and thought about it when I wasn't reading it. What made it good? It's easy to read, a bit like watching a soap opera; yes, it's an everyday story of simple folk. Its main USP, though, is the realism, which made me feel two different things. Firstly, a comfortable nostalgia; I was not born until 1959, but know that people of my parents' generation see those post war years as something of a golden age. You know, when people had proper family values and were so grateful just to live in a time of peace that they were more appreciative of seemingly trivial pleasures. The other side, though, is somewhat darker: the prejudices, particularly amongst the ill educated, and the sense of being in a social straitjacket. This book portrays both sides so well.
In the first book I did not warm to the main character, Mary Howarth, but I came to like her much more in this one, along with ex POW, Peter, and Mary's sister, Ellen. Oh, and the horrors of living with the battleaxe mothers in law! The book is sometimes very graphic in its realism and made me extremely glad the stork didn't drop me in Ellen's situation; Mrs Booth was quite revolting. And then there is the gross and despicable George Shuttleworth...
I'd say that if this sort of family drama is your favourite thing to read, you will love this book; it's very well written and is a fine example of the genre. I shall definitely be reading part 3 when available; it's about the next generation and is set in the 1960s. I so look forward to Ms Barrow's take on an era I really do remember.
A note to the proofreader: at 66% Ms Barrow has used the word 'scran', which is northern slang word for food. "Good scran that, our kid,". Alas, the proofreader/editor has changed it to 'scram'! This made me laugh, as I am a southerner who has moved to the north east in recent years, and before that I hadn't heard of the word, either. There - you learn something new every day, indeed!
PATTERN OF SHADOWS by Judith Barrow reviewed HERE
LIVING IN THE SHADOWS by Judith Barrow reviewed HERE