Guest review by Denise @ aroundtheworldwithahighchair.com
The next time the BBC are scouring the bookshelves for new novels to serialise in their Sunday evening ‘life was harder then, but more fulfilling’ slot they would probably get very excited about Connolly’s England’s Lane.
Set in 1959, notably before the swinging Sixties, it goes behind closed doors of the families living and working in three of the shops on England’s Lane. The butchers, the ironmonger and the sweetshop. Unsurprisingly nothing is quite as it seems and everyone has their secrets. Jim and Milly have a loveless marriage, unable to have children of their own and have come up with an almost identical solution to get through the pain but go about it in very different ways. Stan and Jane have a disabled son and Jane has not spoken or left her room for years, leaving Stan to bring up their son alone. While Jonathan is a ladies man with even bigger secrets to hide from wife Fiona.
The book is very much in two parts. The first, slowly introducing each character to the point of frustration. Where few words would suffice Connolly adds even more for good measure. Each character giving a first person account as the story continues. It is a style that could easily irritate some.
But, it is a book worth persevering with as the second half picks up the pace as we discover even more secrets being revealed, which aren’t necessarily what you would expect. And, by the end you’re not sure what is going to happen next.
This isn’t the book to choose if you are looking for something uplifting. It’s bleak, violent, full of hypocrisy in a time when people really did care what the neighbours thought. As I say, perfect BBC Sunday night serialisation material.
England’s Lane is published by Quercus and is currently available in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review and to Denise for reading and reviewing it for me.
Disclosure: Denise received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Guest reviewers are asked to share their honest opinion and are under no obligation to provide a positive review.