“Where possible, I tried to keep strictly to the available sources”. Statements like this always evoke a little dread in me. Because we all know, secretly, that the lives of characters in books are more interesting than real lives. They are more varied, move faster and are more colourful. Authors who focus on real lives for fiction seem somehow to have missed the point.
Phillida feels just a little too real. A life of work and family, heartache and small moments of joy, punctuated admittedly by sudden, shocking, life-altering instances.
I can’t work up any emotions about Phillida, the character, or the novel.
- It was interesting, but written about topics that have been covered before, extensively, and by arguably better writers
- It was philosophical, but not in any way which was surprising. Phillida’s thoughts on slavery and freedom would not challenge anyone’s preconceptions
- It was quotable, but not particularly memorable. In my head it is already muddled with a slough of other, similar books
- The characters were stereotypes, with small twists, but stereotypes nevertheless
- It has themes running through it – knitting, ghosts, shadows – but they become repetitive and are never explored in any particularly meaningful way
- And nothing really happened at the end.
I am not saying it was a bad book. Just that I have nothing more than this to write about it really.