A Rose in Flanders Fields
I am a fairly disciplined reader. I can force myself to finish a book I don’t like, can’t get into or that I find just plain silly. This novel had the distinct honor of wearing on my discipline and making me cringe when I looked at my Kindle. It wasn’t bad. It was just never ending. Add that to the fact that I could not engage with the characters or the plot and I found my reading experience tedious beyond belief.
Evie Creswell is perfect. She is wealthy but befriends her servants, is loyal even when her friends are accused of theft, she’s beautiful and brave and kind. Right now all that perfection is in France, driving an ambulance while the shells fall and the lines fail and there is danger at every turn. But as she sits in her tent, tired and uncomfortable, she transports herself via memory back to England and the start of her romance with her husband.
She first sees him when she is down in the kitchen and the butcher introduces the staff to his new butcher’s boy, Will Davies. In her plain everyday dress, with her hair done simply Will mistakes her for one of the help and the two share the briefest of flirtations. The two meet again in town and begin a secretive courtship. Evie knows her mother will never approve of her marrying someone so far beneath her station and that everything must be done on the sly. When the war starts they determine to marry before they are permanently parted. They share one wondrous night of love and then Will departs for military service. Evie follows soon after to begin her training.
It took a lot of reading to get all the above information and yet at the end of it I didn’t feel connected to the characters. Sure, I knew Will was a great guy who was an artist when he wasn’t working at the butchers and I knew Evie was perfect but honestly, that was it. The author’s style was very tell rather than show and while we had a few significant scenes they were interjected too infrequently for me to really latch on to the characterization being displayed in them. There were also a lot of characters, most of whom behaved in ways which completely baffled me. A lot of action occurs and tons of melodrama; however, the use of first person limited for narration style made me feel very disconnected from what was happening.
Which made me not care about what was occurring or what was going to occur. Even when a character is raped I felt little interest in her plot line and just kept going through the motions of turning the page.
The one emotion I felt was frustration when someone fell in love with Evie. Why? We had barely seen the two interact, the man knows she’s married – why does he fall in love? I think it was to reinforce how awesome she is. And how she has options in her own class. Yawn. Whatever.
There were moments that I did enjoy about the story – such as the giving of the paper rose and their day at the festival – but they weren’t enough to make me enjoy the tale. There also wasn’t anything about the book that struck me as being horribly done. It wasn’t bad. Just boring. I can’t recommend this reading experience.