Rattles and Rosettes: Two Fans. Two Centuries. One Passion Paperback – 1 Apr 2014
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January 1914. War looms with Germany but that is the least of 16-year-old miner Tom Daws' concerns. Can his beloved team reach the FA Cup Final for the first time? And what will happen to a blossoming romance with a rich girl out of his league, suffragette Emily Bettridge? January 2010. Dan Howard is already at war with modern music and football. Educated to useless degree level, the 23-year-old runs a part-time 60s covers band, fronted by girlfriend Sally. His fearsome Welsh grandmother comes to live chez Howard, with a hidden past and secrets she dare not reveal.
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Is it a “lads’ book”? Well, 23 year-old Dan Howard ekes out a living trying to sell security devices for wheelie-bins, but his heart belongs to the music championed by his 60s cover band, and also to the football club he supports, whose battle to avoid financial ruin and extinction inflames his rage against the loathsome influence of accountants and profiteers on the game he loves. Mr. Goddard writes about these worlds with a keen ear for language and a clear understanding of the stresses and the dreams which drive those who inhabit them.
Is it a book for football enthusiasts? Burnley fans will delight in the evocative recreation of their 1914 triumph: Crystal Palace fans will love to be reminded of how the unquenchable spirit of their supporters kept the club afloat when it seemed to be sinking into oblivion. Steve Goddard’s own enthusiasm should ensure that anyone who enjoys reading about sport will be grateful for the authentic insights into the world of football, past and present.
Is it a war story? In 1914, the historical context of the parallel narrative, Tom Daws' only relief from his grimly perilous life in the coal mining industry is his own passion for football, coupled with the enjoyment he finds in keeping a journal. Writing - journalism perhaps - seems to offer a glimmer of hope for a life outside the pits, until an easier escape presents itself in the opportunity to join the army and teach those troublesome Germans a short sharp lesson. Even before we come to the acknowledgements at the end of Rattles and Rosettes it is very clear that the author has painstakingly researched this era, and has drawn on the first-hand experiences of some who lived through it.
So clearly it is a book for blokes? Well no, not at all. The most talented member of Dan’s band is his girlfriend Sally, whose Dusty Springfield tribute act brings her to the brink of fame, but who struggles to come to terms with having a boyfriend who plainly abandons his commitment to her for 90 minutes every Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile back in 1914 Tom’s family are clearly bent on manoeuvring him into a relationship with Nellie Williams, who is quite pretty and can sew and cook, but seems to lack any conversational skills. Tom, however, comes into unexpected contact with what 21st century Dan would have called “posh totty” in the form of local rich girl Emily Bettridge, who not only captures his heart but accompanies him to the F.A.Cup Final and begins to involve him in her espousal of the suffragette movement.
And as if that wasn’t enough to capture the attention of female readers, it gradually becomes clear that the real heroine of the book is Dan’s ailing and very elderly Welsh Nanna, probably the most formidable old lady since Grandma in Giles’s famous cartoons, but who becomes increasingly surprising and adorable as the story unfolds, and who emerges as the cement that binds the two narratives together in a denouement that is both satisfying and profoundly moving.
This is a skilfully constructed book: more than that it is disturbing and heartwarming in equal measure. It gripped my attention from beginning to end, and I thoroughly recommend it.
I originally read the book as a Crystal Palace and football fanatic. I was completely hooked by both stories and could not put the book down until it was finished. I actually think the war time/love/Burnley story is stronger and had me hooked more than the one set in the modern day but I loved both and cared for all the characters. Please do not let supporting a club other than Palace or Burnley put you off buying this outstanding novel. The two clubs are used as a setting and are not the main storyline. Much like many fan's Saturday afternoons!
The second part of this review is written by my girlfriend:
Despite hating football, I was persuaded to read this by James as he knows I enjoy war/love stories. Both tales are well written and have a romantic charm that pulled on my heartstrings but the book offered even more than that. It gave me an understanding and love for my boyfriend's football obsession - and I think Sally's brilliantly written woes gave my partner a view of how I sometimes feel sidelined by his love of his club. A must read for any football fanatic's partner. Especially if you're a sucker for a bit of romance
Tying two eras together is a interesting mix though I confess the eve of WW1 would have carried a book by itself. The writing is authentic, well paced and deeply engrossing. The modern era part has a strong female character, so hopefully this book isn't classified under 'Sports - Men Only'.
It deserves a wider audience. In the era of mass self publication, too many would be writers are perhaps over indulged by their nearest and dearest. Like X-Factors contestants facing the reality of their 'talent'. This debut writer however is the real deal going by this.
So overcome any reticence of the theme (and perhaps the first few pages to get into the swing of it). A truly lovely debut book.
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