Life isn’t an exact science. Things can be troublesome. Like pregnant step-mothers, the ins-and-outs of French existentialism . . . having an unexceptional name.
*Please note: I received this book gratis in order to provide a review. This review is my honest opinion and is unaffected by the receipt of this for free.*
Sue Bowl has had a rough ride these past years. Her mother is no longer there for her and her father has moved on at rapid speed. Her only solace was the walled gardens of Green Place, her Aunt Coral and Joe.
She wants more than anything else to bevome a writer and stop being a Plan B sort of person. When one of the lodgers at Green Place pushes her out of her comfort zone, Sue finds herself pushing away the people she holds most dear.
Above all else she must remember: to be more Russian.
Review of Martini Henry
I have to say, that when I first started reading this I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I’ve given the book 4/5 because it is a brilliantly well written, complex and thoroughly researched piece. But it took a long while for me to be engrossed by the story.
There are two narratives to Martini Henry. The main narrative that follows Sue in her efforts to find a job that she loves and finance her future. There is also a meta-narrative, Sue discovers a book written seemingly by one of her ancestors, Lawrence Garden, and, being 3000 pages, she decides to note down excerpts for the reader. Each of the narratives are intriguing in their own right but follow a very different style and timeline. I found that for me, it made the Sue narrative a little disjointed and some of the excerpt inclusions where quite abrupt and jarring to the flow of the story. That’s not to say this wasn’t on purpose, I believe it very much was. Sue uses the excerpts as an escape from her own issues.
One of the main themes of the narrative is Sue’s relationships. Her indecision between Joe and Quiz is almost understandable but equally entirely unreasonable. I kind of see her situation as an emotional existential crisis. Quiz makes the world seem exciting and enigmatic, while Joe understands Sue’s innermost nuances.
Equally Sue’s relationship with her Aunt Coral plays a key part in the way the book moves forward. Her confidant, scribe, teacher and adoptive mother, Aunt C is the bedrock of Sue’s emotional stability. The mutual worry they share for each other offers a nurturing and eccentric female bond.
Sara Crowe’s efforts in putting together this book do not go unnoticed. The extensive research required is commendable. This book gives the feel of scholarly literature, while also maintaining a form of accessibility through Sue’s own learning. It introduces the reader to a more classical kind of text in a very unusual setting.
Martini Henry is an eclectic mix of characters whose lives interweave to such an extent that they trip over each other.This book is unlike anything I’ve read before and, I’m sure, anything I’ll read after.
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