Where Honesty Never Ends.
Note: This copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: Three Seasons is a book of three novellas, unconnected with each other, but all set in the south of England in the 1980s.
In Spring, a middle-aged Hull trawler skipper, his great days gone, has one last throw of the dice a South Coast port.
In Summer, an ambitious young man makes his way in the booming Thames Valley property market, unconcerned with the damage he does to others.
In Autumn, the Master of an Oxford college welcomes his two sons home, but they awake difficult memories from half a century before.
Three Seasons is about the Thatcher era in Britain, but it is not about politics. These three stories are portraits of a country and its people on the verge of change.
Greetings everyone! The Review Board here, to share our thoughts on Three Stories: Three Stories of England in the Eighties by Mike Robbins. To weigh in with her observations, Harmony Kent.
Three seasons, Spring, Summer, and Autumn link three otherwise separate short stories, which range from the fishing fleets of Hull to the property market in the Thames Valley to the Master of an Oxford College. As the author points out in the blurb, though set in Thatcher-era Britain, the tales contain no politics and have little to do with the upheavals common to that galvanic period.
Rather, they take on a micro-view, down to the individual and personal perspectives, which goes to show that humanity hasn’t changed all that much in the last three and a bit decades. Each tale attempts to offer an atmospheric interpretation of the feeling of the eighties, which—of course—differs for each person that experienced those times.
The first story deals with the decline of the fishing industry in Hull, and follows a sixty-year-old trawler captain, who’s done the job for forty-five years and drank for about forty.
The second story deals with a somewhat impetuous estate agent involved in the Thames Valley property market, and who makes some questionable decisions with far-reaching consequences.
The third and final story deals with an aging college master, for whom present events take him back to his childhood and show how his future came to be shaped.
The pacing of each story is steady to slow, and the collection somewhat eclectic. This isn’t a book that fits readily into any one category, other than ‘short fiction’. Being tight on time these days, I looked forward to dipping into these little tales rather than having to commit to a lengthy novel. Unfortunately, I ended up struggling with this read.
The topics and characters failed to draw me in. The narrative reads extremely passively, and is filled to the brim with filter words (saw, heard, felt, thought, etc.) and delaying the action unnecessarily with devices such as ‘started to/began to’. I have to say, on the flip side, that the spelling is to a good standard.
It would appear that the author has done his research, especially around the shipping subjects, and the descriptions bring an authentic feel to the fiction. On balance, the book left me feeling neither one way nor another and isn’t one I’m likely to remember. However, apart from the issues mentioned above, it’s a decent enough read. For that reason, I give it six out of ten TRB stars, which equates to three out of five on other rating scales, and means ‘one better than a five’, which is ‘flip a coin and/or take a chance (if you dare).
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