Saturday, February 14, 2015

Who We Were by Lucy Neave - a review

Who We WereWho We Were by Lucy Neave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On finishing this book - my initial notes read:
Sparse and elegant prose but for a novel about passion and betrayal, strangely devoid of emotional connection.  I gave it 3 stars (out of 5)

Nearly a week later and I am back on Goodreads changing my score from 3 stars to 4.  I continue to think about this novel and divine why I couldn't connect.  I talk to friends and colleagues about it and wonder out loud to them why that was - should it have been a series of novellas to explore the effects of the political environments in which they find themselves and the significant issues such as scientific ethics, the effects of the Depression, WWII and the war in Asia in particular.

It's a very, very accomplished first novel.

I keep comparing Bill to Dorrigo from Flanagan's Narrow Road to the Deep North.  Similar experiences, similarly flawed but Bill just isn't sympathetic.

Also, the suspense which might have built in the Cold War period just didn't get there.

Perhaps I wasn't meant to connect.  Annabel and Bill save their passion for each other and their work, and in Bill's case, a political cause.  Annabel is a perpetual outsider, even in her marriage, and theirs is a very exclusive club so maybe I was meant to feel excluded.

I would recommend this book, but if you enjoy the emotional connection to character, you might not find it.  You will, however, have much food for thought.

This novel is shortlisted in the ACT Book of the Year Award.  For the first time this year you can vote in the People's Choice Awards, but get your skates on, voting closes soon.

For information on previous awards, a committed and passionate librarian has created this resource.

SOURCE: Libraries ACT

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