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A Warning to the Curious,
This review is from: Beyond the Storm (Paperback)
Having just read "Before the Storm", I feel impelled to warn you: if you are tempted to try E V Thompson's work, please borrow a copy from your local library before throwing away your money. Ten pages should be enough for you to realise that Thompson is possibly the feeblest writer of popular fiction currently in print.
Prose so bad cannot be blamed on inadequate editing - although, to protect their reputation, Hale Books should have returned Thompson his manuscript, marked "unpublishable". If all that is dull, hackneyed, repetitious, illogical, crass, insipid, inelegant and straightforwardly incorrect were removed from "Before the Storm", you would be left with 256 pages blank save for the chapter headings.
The author's descriptive talent is so meagre that any colourful adjective (even when wrongly-used: "fulsome" does not mean hearty, but overdone and insincere) is recycled ad nauseam. Likewise, the reader is not trusted to grasp any important information, right down to the central relationship between a vicar (curiously referred to as "Reverend David") and his sister; so it reappears whenever possible, conveniently padding out the text. Thompson is perhaps on piecework rates; though that would imply he were a competent craftsman, which he unquestionably is not.
No character in his book is more than a name (often a clumsily-invented one: for example, Eval Moyle, engaged in evil moil), barely depicted and speaking indistinguishably from any other, in the flat tones of a TEFL textbook. Anachronisms abound: the 1840s were unacquainted with the notion of "minor disabilities" or "inappropriate behaviour", and although the author's attempt to give his heroine HRT (not that sort) with liberal use of question marks is enterprising, it's premature by around 150 years. From the very first page, the plot somehow contrives to be drearily predictable, and at the same time, completely laughable: a chapter in which country folk run scared of some cattle is all, in Thompson's words, "lively bullocks".
The editor - if there indeed was one - is not entirely off the hook. While some sentences in the narrative are painfully protracted via a sudden conjunction, usually "but", others merrily connect finite verbs with only a comma between. In several scenes, the names Eliza and Alice are used interchangeably for the same character, while the name Kendall is spelt ad lib with one "e" or two. Some passages, meanwhile, literally make no sense.
Bothering to comment on witless drivel like "Beyond the Storm" is probably like trying to make water run uphill: the effluent will continue to pour forth (another Thompson volume is threatened), and some misguided people will lap it up. But considering that the rich satisfaction of an Iain Pears, a Rose Tremain or even a Patrick O'Brian could be had for the same price, what need has any reader to waste time on E V Thompson?