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
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.
Great book - fantastic for a footie fan and especially for a Burnley fan! Rather slow to get going, and the silliness of Dan, and the constant prattling and whingeing about Crystal Palace was hard work - but worth the slog after about a quarter of the way through, after which it was hard to put down. The depiction of working class Burnley and lancshire was pretty good (some anachronistic reflections slipt in) although perhaps slightly too "soft" Tom's vital statistics tell of the malnutrition which was coomon to the Lancashire working classes of the time. Superbly realised characters - and the twist-in-the-tale denoument was superb. Highly recommended.
I did buy this book with a slight bias as a supporter of one of the clubs mentioned in the book. Before I go any further, do not be put off by that. The mention of football. Yes, it's woven into the story but becomes more of a backdrop as the book winds on.
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.
Two stories in one book, seemingly only linked by football in general and Crystal palace in particular. This is an easy book to get into, I liked the jaunty style and the references to 60's pop music but as a Palace fan I'd have liked a bit more about the games in the fateful administration season as I was at most of them. That said the ending pulls both strands together.
This is a book of two stories from 1914 and 20xx that eventually link together - it uses football, music and an interesting 1914 historical setting as a backdrop to what I think are the main themes of the book - loyalty, trust, young love and relationships. One of those rare books that you have to keep reading and reading to find out what happens next - I finished the book in 5 days. Don't think this is a book for football fans or for blokes (far too much love interest for that!). A recommended read.
This is a must read for all fans of football and not just followers of Burnley and Crystal Palace. It offers a wonderful social history as well as observations, held by many I suspect, about the blight that has affected English football (the demon money from sky). Above all that it articulates the passion held by many for our national game and the joy and agony that every follower of every club experiences every season. The human story underpinning all this is well constructed and written I just loved it
I thought people may like to hear from a female reader. This is a brilliant read even if you do not support either team-if you do it is a must read! I am a Palace supporter so enjoyed many of the references to my club and players. The characters are all very believable and the female characters are very strong and often lead the storyline. Do not be put off if you are not a football fan-this is a story that spans many decades and has a lovely ending. Read and enjoy!
Good length for a read on the beach, the story artfully weaves together two narratives from a hundred years apart. Will certainly appeal to football fans, particularly those of Palace and Burnley, but there is enough here to satisfy those with no interest in football. At £3.50 on Kindle, it's definitely worth taking a punt on, a fine effort by Steve Goddard.