Saturday, 29 August 2015


4 out of 5 stars

1960s family drama, 3rd part of a trilogy

On Amazon UK HERE

I was looking forward to reading the third part of Judith Barrow's warts-and-all saga about the working class Howarth/Booth/Schorrman family living in Wales and northern England.  The first part took place in WW2, the second in 1950, and Living in the Shadows takes us into the next generation, in the late 1960s.

These books are very much an every day story of ordinary people, a bit like listening to The Archers or watching Emmerdale Farm before it lost its 'Farm'; I'm sure someone makes someone else a cup of tea every ten pages!  They will hold a great nostalgic appeal for those who have lived through these times in similar circumstances, which explains their popularity.  But they're more than just a real life drama; Judith Barrow has a clever and subtle way of showing the attitudes of the time amongst Mr and Mrs Average, rather than giving them a gloss, like a nostalgia programme on TV; this, for me, is their greatest strength.

So, the 1960s... it wasn't all free love, Union Jack minis and Twiggy; the atmosphere of the war years of the 1940s and the struggle back in the 1950s prevailed.  The extended family in this book come face to the face with scenarios of the type that were brushed under the carpet fifty years ago, ie, homosexuality and domestic violence.   The storyline I found the most interesting was that of eighteen year old Victoria, who experienced the sinister side of the hippie movement; it shows how young people, eager to take on new trends, can be manipulated and taken advantage of.  Oddly enough, I had only recently watched a few TV programmes about Charles Manson and his strange commune of brainwashed young women; Victoria's tale rang all too true.

As for the older members of the family, the loss of one of them near the end made me feel very sad, even bringing a tear or two to my eye; this bit was very well written indeed.  I suspect this is not the last we shall see of this family!

PATTERN OF SHADOWS by Judith Barrow reviewed HERE

CHANGING PATTERNS by Judith Barrow reviewed HERE



  1. Thank you so much for this review, Terry. I have to admit I was very nervous when I saw your link. From an author I much admire, this is indeed an accolade. I did laugh about the 'cups of tea' comment; you're not the first to mention that (perhaps I did overdo it but, in our family,it's the first answer to any problem and I must have subconsciously thought of that as an answer to this family.Hah!!) I'm glad you thought I'd delivered a 'warts and all' saga - it's what I always aim for. Have to admit I too cried when I choose to lose that character - but it was the right time to let them go. Thank you again.

    1. Judith, Judith - no, absolutely, it's realistic! Like in EastEnders, Pauline Fowler was always putting the wretched kettle on!!! I don't think you overdid it at all. Do you know what, even thinking just then about the loss of that character make my eyes prick, and the spouse's reaction was SO good, I loved how she reacted to her daughter too - one of the best bits of the book. :)