The Very Thought of You

by Rosie Alison

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Featured image for The Very Thought of You

I’ll file this one under “quite good but could have been better”.

The majority of the book is set in the second world war and told from multiple viewpoints. The major characters are Anna, an eight year old evacuee send from London to Yorkshire - shades of Carrie’s War here for me (can’t really remember it, must reread it with Miranda sometime!); Anna’s mother, Roberta, who remains in London living a more or less single life without husband or daughter; and Thomas Ashton who runs the temporary country house school for evacuees where Anna ends up. Other characters appear and disappear from the narrative at various points: a Polish artist, a young schoolteacher, Thomas’s unhappy wife, Thomas’s diplomatic friends the Nortons who turn out to have been real people. On the whole it’s a good story with a great sense of place but some of the characters never came fully to life for me - there’s the occasional fabulous bit of characterisation but then a lot that seemed somewhat generic.

At the end of the story the war is over and the book quickly skips through “what happened next” to bring the surviving characters up to the present day. Although I could see how this tied the plot up by showing the effect of the wartime events on the rest of the characters lives it still felt a bit of an extended epilogue rather than a full part of the main book.

I think this is Rosie Alison’s first book and I’d certainly try another even though this didn’t quite deliver for me.