Friday, August 5, 2011

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison (review #131)

Title: The Very Thought of You
Author: Rosie Alison
Publisher: Washington Square Press (Simon and Schuster)
Format: Review Copy
Genre: Fiction

I'm immediately drawn to beautiful covers and I will almost always read the back of one. When this arrived for me in the mail a few weeks ago, I knew it would be one on my list to read right away. The cover is not only beautiful, the book itself is compared to the novels of Kate Morton. She is one of my favorite authors. I was now even more curious.

It took me awhile to finish it but only due to my hectic schedule.
It was an emotional read full of highs but mostly lows.
It was written with a sorrowful tenderness almost too hard to explain.

Here is the synopsis from the publisher's website:

England, 31st August 1939: The world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic, childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unraveling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair with unforeseen consequences. A story of longing, loss, and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, The Very Thought of You is not just a love story but a story about love.

The Characters:
The book was written from many different perspectives, mainly Anna and Thomas and Elizabeth. You also hear a little from Anna's parents, Roberta and Lewis. I enjoyed the different voice in each chapter. It added to the layer of the story. Not all authors can pull it off with little confusion. I felt Rosie Alison did a fine job. I enjoyed the innocence of Anna's voice but what intrigued me more was the turbulent dynamic between Thomas and Elizabeth. They were both extremely flawed characters, unhappy and stuck in their existence. You are drawn to them because of their class and their beauty but what lies beneath is utter sadness. Though hard to read at times, I found their parts to be unputdownable. I was just curious as to what their next move might be.
Roberta and Lewis are side characters but for the sake of the story as a whole, it was important to learn of their life and how it was impacted by the separation from their child.

The Location:
There is always something so moody about the English countryside. Books set in this location tend to be my favorites, especially if you throw in a large estate and a family with secrets. The author include an introduction entitled Guide to Historic Houses of England, which was fascinating to read and set up the mood of the book quite nicely.

The Story:
I am intrigued with the time period of this war. It amazes me that families parted from their children to keep them safe. I understand it but it scares me to think I would ever have to make that decision. I felt the sadness of Roberta parting with Anna. I felt Anna's fear when she arrived at Ashton Place. I could feel the heaviness of the what was happening in the world at that time. Wrapped up with that you get an extrememly unhappy marriage, secrets and betrayals and lots of unfortuante things that end up happening to these characters. It was a sad read but it was written really well. It kept my interest until the end. I just hoped for a happier outcome for all of them.

Rating: 5/6
I would rate this a 5, highly recommended. She is a new author and it may have shown a bit in some of the writing but overall, I felt she created a tangled web worth reading. Fans of literary or historical fiction would like this one.

Book Club Pick?
Hmm, sure. It brings up thoughts of the history of that time; Hitler and war. It also brings up class and societal rules, infidelity, education, etc. I think book clubs would find plenty to discuss.

Author's Pubisher Page:

To Purchase:

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Jenny said...

Sounds good! I'm not even a parent and I can't imagine having to make that kind of decision! The atmosphere and the plot make me think slightly of Atonement... The whole live affair and the child witnessing things.

Mystica said...

This sounds very good.

Libby said...

Sounds pretty cool. Definitely worth a look. :)

Jo-Jo said...

What a great review Michelle! I have this one for review and can hardly wait to read it now!

Carol said...

Great review, Michelle.

I did start this one last week but it is on the back burner as I have a few needing more urgent attention.

It does seem to be a lovely book.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds interesting. I love the cover too.

Ottilie Weber said...

Hey I nominated you for an award! Come check it out at mine: !!