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Jaqueline Yallop writes beautifully. Her prose is evocative
on 19 August 2014
Jaqueline Yallop writes beautifully. Her prose is evocative, intelligent and thought provoking. I found Marlford, her third novel, dark and compelling, with a vivid sense of time and place which I suspect comes from thorough research as well as strong writing ability. She both knows her stuff and is able to convey it convincingly.
Whilst the stories in her first two novels, Kissing Alice and Obedience, unfurl over generations, the action in Marlford spans just a few weeks. This limited time frame, combined with Ellie’s extremely sheltered, isolated and old fashioned life, lend a feverish intensity to her contact with two students who stumble into her life – an intensity which goes beyond the usual sexual tension among young adults. Yet despite the narrative taking place in a couple of weeks, family history and destiny weigh heavily on the story as it gathers pace towards an inevitable collision of times and attitudes – of Ellie’s life at Marlford, rooted in protection of the past, and the students’ world view, firmly oriented towards the future. I thought that the inclusion of the 1969 moon landings provided the perfect backdrop for this collision and for the accompanying challenge of all that Ellie’s family stand for. But I really liked the fact that the novel didn’t make this a simplistic new-old-good-bad choice. The issues raised are far more subtle and ambiguous ones of loyalty, protection, freedom and destiny. This is what I really admire and appreciate in Yallop’s writing – she doesn’t bash you over the head with her themes and thoughts. She sets up the issues but leaves you to draw your own conclusions.