Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review: England’s Lane

By Jami Deise

My high-school English teacher preferred British literature to American, and thus I spent my junior and senior years reading Dickens, Shakespeare, Hardy, and, of course, Virginia Woolf. We studied stream-of-consciousness and point-of-view, and now I know enough about contemporary fiction to wonder if To The Lighthouse would have been rejected for too much interior monologue, not enough plot, and that crime against humanity, head-hopping.

Woolf’s great niece, Emma, has a debut novel out, although as a non-fiction author she is already well-known in England for books about eating disorders. Not biologically related to her famous aunt, Emma certainly seems to have learned something about style from her literary predecessor. England’s Lanefeatures stream-of-consciousness, a non-linear narrative, and three protagonists whose thoughts sometimes seem to blend into each other’s. Reading it was an interesting break from my usual diet of tightly structured thrillers.

A type of novel that is sometimes dismissed as a “quiet book,” England’s Lane is mostly about Lily, who is having an affair with her older married colleague, Harry. Harry’s point-of-view comes into play, as well as the perspective of his wife, Pippa, who knows about the affair, suffers for it, and is paralyzed into inaction. Lily comes across well, despite knowing that Harry is married with two teenage sons. At the same time, Harry doesn’t come across as a villain either, although he is clearly selfish, and eventually his actions toward Lily veer into unhealthy ones. Pippa is the least prominent character, but she never disappears into stereotype.

Some of the dialogue was a little clunky at times, but overall, this quiet book works. England’s Lane told the timeless story of a love triangle – something British authors from Shakespeare’s time onward seem especially adept at telling.

Thanks to Busy Bee PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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