Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but don't let the hype spoil it for you, 31 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Tin-Kin (Hardcover)
Eleanor Thom does indeed show promise, and I hope her first novel won't be her last. But the extraordinary hype around this book set me up for disappointment. I read it with two friends - an Elgin man who grew up there in the period in which much of the flashback action is set, and a travelling woman who grew up 'on the road' albeit not in Moray, but in Sutherland. The latter thought the general picture was accurate, but felt strongly that some specific key aspects of the story were not credible, and pointed out that even Thom's sources for traveller culture were settled their entire lives.
The Elgin reader complained that the sometimes bizarrely spelled vernacular sounded much further south than Moray, was very irritated by the apparent swallowing of a cliche that Northen Scotland + 1950s = town in the grip of the churches, and found some local details to be wrong. We all would have been glad of a small glossary for some the alleged Doric, although we generally recognised the travellers' cant.
All of us felt some confusion as to who was who as the story progressed, perhaps because none of us felt the writer made us care much about the characters. We all agreed the comparisons with Jessie Kesson are fatuous and grossly superficial - presumably the thought process was "Moray, oh yes, there was another woman, Jessie Kesson, she came from there and wrote about that period".
For my own part I found Thom included far too much extraneous detail, and one character's speech seemed strangely stilted. I suspect Thom failed to edit specific family detail into a flowing fiction. She is obviously passionate about her subject here. Ironically, that might have made it difficult to be objective about the craft of writing. And she wouldn't be the first writer to be fired up by something in her heritage, desperate to write about it, yet fail to be credible on something that isn't her own culture or life-experience.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Aug 2009 20:06:02 BDT
"it isn't her own culture" - really? Try coming to one of her events in Elgin and counting the family members. And some of them are still on the road, still in Scotland so please check your research.
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