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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author tried too hard, 4 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Women and Children First (Kindle Edition)
This first novel is a good first attempt for perhaps an undergraduate at university, but I doubt it's destined for any real prestige and the author seems destined for a career in another field or in trash novels (something I enjoy much of the time if it's gripping) rather than anything truly powerful. If she continues with her writing, I hope she can get a better editor to help push her to greater skill levels.

One area which needs much more development is in descriptions and texture of the text. It is as if the author has placed some descriptions in as an afterthought, but in reality, this was not at the forefront of her mind. I never felt like I was immersed in the story, but just needed to get through it instead. Character development was quite shallow, with a lot of telling rather than showing where the author missed a valuable opportunity to bring the characters to life. Readers get a brief skim of descriptions like a boy with a cheeky smile or a Annie's knees hurting from climbing stairs, but this could have been developed further to make the readers feel the pain and to symbolize the lives of the characters. Describe the stairs, for example, and the impact that each step has on her body. What would place that cheeky smile on the Finnbar's face and what did it really look like? Was it slightly crooked with his eyes looking a bit sly?

On another note, much is written in third person impersonal which is highly appropriate, but then suddenly, out of nowhere, the reader is told what they are feeling rather than what the characters are feeling. In writing this novel, the author's story would have been more effective if it did not address the audience directly, especially since these actually come off as errors rather than an intentional switch to audience recognition.

Much of her description of the ship was quite limited and she seemed to make assumptions about the previous knowledge held by readers rather than reintroducing descriptions of the ship in her own words and through her own imagination and research combined. For example, she glances over the ceiling of the first class space, but doesn't actually describe the moldings in a way which readers could imagine what they actually looked like. The grand staircase was only ever mentioned, but never truly described. Carpeting was sometimes described as plush and something that characters unfamiliar with the quality would sink into, but it lacked colour and texture. The author could have come up with a description about how Annie's pained feet (just a quick idea to give the character more description!) were comforted by the soft carpets, just to give a deeper impression of of the opulence and how it was different from third class.

In Juliette's character, she accepts the proposal of a man while pregnant and she swears to herself that if he proposes, she will tell him of her pregnancy immediately, but then, she not only doesn't tell him, but there is no internal battle dealing with this problem. She obviously opts to try to hide the pregnancy, as previously planned, but there is no explanation for her accepting his proposal and marrying him without her following through and telling him first.

The author seems to have set out to write some type of 'short' epic novel in the popular styles of John Jakes or Herman Wouk, but she needs to learn to simplify the story line and develop one or two more characters much more completely before coming up with interlaced character lines which end up just too thin to enable the reader to fully understand them. I could be wrong about her intentions, but this is actually indicative of a bigger problem where it isn't clear what the author has set out to do for sure. A better book would show this more clearly.

I don't actually recommend this book to anyone as reading it felt like a real chore and, though I could see the author was trying to pull at heartstrings in places, it just didn't seem to push me to that emotional point of sympathy or empathy with characters. This is only noteworthy given that I have no difficulty shedding the tears when I have really become connected with the characters. I welcome a box of tissues for an emotional tale, but this one just didn't do it for me.
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Location: Cambridge, UK

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