Amy Reads Books

Very Thought of You

The Very Thought of You - Rosie Alison (Probably more towards 2.5 Stars)Rosie Alison’s World War Two set debut novel received an Orange Prize nomination in 2010, and I remember reading about it at the time and really wanting to get my hands on it. However, the general reviews of Goodreads were strangely low and, unfortunately, I fall into the camp of those who didn’t really enjoy the novel very much.Alison’s general writing style is really quite fine, as are her descriptions; especially of the Yorkshire estate that Anna is evacuated to and that of war-time London. However, this is unfortunately undermined by the fact that the novel tries to do too much.In my opinion we had far too many characters and changing viewpoints; we had the young Anna Sands; both Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton; Miss Weir one of the teachers at the Ashton’s home; Pawel a Polish refugee who comes to teach at the school; Roberta Sands Anna’s mother and even a couple more. This constant changing viewpoints got a little confusing, and sometimes tiresome. The novel’s description sells the book on Anna’s viewpoint, and personally I think that the book would have been more effective if it had remained mostly told through her eyes. The constant shifts in viewpoint meant that as a reader I struggled to really feel much empathy for any of the characters as we were only with them for such a limited amount of time.Furthermore, there were times when the plot read like an even more dramatic version of Downton Abbey. Pretty much all of the adult characters end up having affairs for some reason or another; with Thomas’ background reading like one of the most dramatic things in the world and even then I struggled to really find sympathy with him or Elizabeth-both of whom seemed too wrapped up in their own problems. The event at the height of the novel seemed really out of the left field for the character involved and struck me as a little contrived, ultimately making me decidedly uninterested for the remainder of the novel.I think Alison’s writing is really lovely, but it felt overstretched in this novel. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see what her next novel will be like.