I went into this half-expecting a sort of knock-off of [book:The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir], set in the present. I had a moment’s hesitation on seeing use of the present tense. I hesitated – for a minute. And within a couple of pages all doubts and expectations fizzed away, and I was just enjoying the thing wholeheartedly.
Yes, sure, there are echoes of other books. It’s about a young woman who goes reluctantly to see an elderly relative out of duty, grumps about it for some time, makes a bad first impression in a few different directions, and slowly has her shell cracked wide open by the place and its people and the music they all make. It’s all been done before in one combination or another.
It does not matter how many other people might or might not have used an idea before you if you can use it to the utmost – can milk it for all the humor and genuine feeling that can be squeezed out of it. There are reasons some basic plotlines are used a lot – it’s because they can be good foundations for great stories. If you can weave it through with vivid and real dialogue, vivid and real characters, a vivid and real setting – it almost doesn’t matter at all what the basic plot is. And Liz Eeles has infused this book with dialogue, characters, and setting that embody all the synonyms Word gives me for “vivid”: bright, vibrant, colorful, brilliant …
Oh, here’s a good example: ”
Kayla beams with delight and gives Roger a huge hug. ‘Aw, you’re not so bad for a grumpy bastard Pom.’ ‘Gerroff,’ growls Roger, going pink but looking pleased. ‘You’re daft as a brush.’
It’s funny; it’s heart-breaking. The characters will stay with me for a long time (especially since I absolutely expect to reread these books). What can I say? I loved this.
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.