Another fantastic book from Robert Goddard. Well written, faultless research - the details are amazing. Historically so accurate, as we know anything written by this author will be.Twists & turns that mean the reader doesn't want to put the book down and strong fascinating characters. Robert Goddard never lets his readers down. Looking forward to his next publication.
I read several reviews before I tried this book, but while I agree Robert Goddard is a good craftsman and writes well, I was actually annoyed by the spinelessness of Geoffrey, the main character. Despite getting himself into some tense and dangerous situations throughout the book, he somehow constantly failed to impress me and I just felt he was too much of a whiner to engage my sympathy. He was, what we would call in sport, a choker - always fading at the point of triumph. I also couldn't feel that much sympathy or sorry for the 'victim' in the book, Consuela, as we really know nothing about her except that she is a beautiful, dignified Brazilian girl who has been used by her family to save their fortunes. There was little attempt to draw her personality, so she seemed more like a catalyst for the events that followed than a real person worthy of Geoffrey's devotion and guilt. He even admits that he 'did not love her enough' at one point. In fact, the best drawn characters in the book are Jacinta, Consuela's daughter and Hermione, Jacinta's aunt. In spite of this, I kept reading because I genuinely wanted to know what happened at the end, but there again, I'm afraid I was a bit disappointed. There was far too much 'explanation' of plot points in the real criminal's statement, and the device of using his friend's diary to explain what happened on occasions when Geoffrey couldn't be present felt a bit contrived. My last personal criticism is that it could have been half the length. Mr Goddard does not believe in economy of language and adopts a 'why use one word when I can use four' approach. I see some others have said this is not his best book as it is so long and drawn out. I have to agree with this. However, I will try another one as I think he can tell a good story and tell it well, but as a first introduction to Goddard, this didn't really get my heart racing with excitement. Nevertheless, this is just my opinion and I realise others might view it as a masterpiece.
I wasn't sure about 'Take no Farewell' when I first picked it up. The synopsis seemed somewhat vague and I wasn't sure I would get to grips with the story. But as with all Goddard books, once I was a few pages in all doubts subsided.
The book is set in the early twenties, with dips into the late Edwardian era, and sees Geoffrey Staddon, an architect, reunited with a decision he once made, a decision he will be now forced to reevaluate. As for the rest of the story, you'll just have to read it. And you won't be disappointed. From the first page till last, the writing is several cuts above, poetical, literary but with heaps of suspense and mystery. Staddon is a flawed character, bland perhaps, but the events that unfold in his life see him become an unwitting hero, fighting others and himself along the way.
Being one of Goddard's earlier works, the story is strung out, as was his wont back then. Nowadays, his stories have more of a race-against-time element, the action unfolding over over days and weeks rather than months and years. It never matters, though. Whatever this writer creates I enjoy. 'Take no Farewell' is now firmly ensconced on my favourites list. I haven't been so lost in book for some time now. Wonderful stuff.
Geoffrey Staddon is a failing architect, a man who seems consumed by emotional ennui and lack of purpose. His present is dissolving around him - a failing career, a failed marriage, a frustrated and moribund life. He lives in the past - the past glory of the finest building he's ever built, the haunting memories of past failure in the only real love he has known. The trial of the glamorous, exotic Consuela Caswell brings this all back to him and changes his life forever.
Robert Goddard is a fine story teller - one of the finest around. This is probably one of his best. It is un-put-down-able. Goddard weaves together a tale of murder and romance which is utterly compelling. He does not go in for heroic action heroes - they are more likely ageing, balding, corpulent, a bit uncertain and lacking in confidence. But Geoffrey Staddon grows into the role of romantic hero, exposing his sense of guilt and loss of honour (the book was released in the US under the title of "Debt of Dishonor").
Goddard writes historical drama - this one is set in the post-War world of the 1920's and the uncertainties of the 1930's, it hints at the loss of innocence England suffered on the Western Front and the bleak prospects before it in the years before the next war. The characterisation - of Staddon, of his first love, and of the house he built, is outstanding, the sense of time and times past is utterly convincing. The story is slow-paced but electric in its compulsion - a masterclass in narrative construction and writing skill. Goddard is an outstanding wordsmith. His writing style is intelligent, economical, and wonderfully seductive - he leads you into a story, into the world of the story, and makes you at home within it.
Published in 1991, this was Goddard's fifth novel (following "Into the Blue"). Yet again, he demonstrates his rare ability to weave a tale across time, to take a twelve year span and make it wholly relevant to the plot of the novel. Goddard handles time better than any other writer. He uses it to give depth and gravitas to the characters and narratives he constructs so convincingly. He is a very English writer - he possibly doesn't cross the Atlantic as well as some, the implicit 'cosiness' of his mysteries concealing the dark undercurrents and Goddard's incisive dissection of the English world and character; his plots are intelligent and beautifully sketched in sepia and charcoal rather than projected as visceral, Technicolor displays.
An absolutely first-class work and an absorbing read.
I've read and enjoyed most of Robert Goddard's output and this was no exception. It was a "slow burn", taking a while to hook me in but, by the halfway mark, I was completely enmeshed in the lives of the characters. As usual, the story has more layers than an onion and is intrinsically a tale of greed, deception, lost love and a race against time. My only reservation and the reason I've only given it four stars is the ending. I don't want to spoil it for others so all I'll say is that, if they were my characters, I wouldn't have finished it that way!