Thursday, August 23, 2012

River of Destiny by Barbara Erskine

Barbara Erskine is an Author best known for her dual time frame books and  her latest follows this formula.
The book has one Contemporary setting and two Historical and goes back and forwards in its time frames to tell the story of Zoe and Ken who have brought a converted barn in Suffolk, Dan a blacksmith in Victorian, England and Eric and Edith who live in Anglo Saxon times.
Each tale is set in Suffolk and over riding each story is the River Deben, dark and mysterious, with a pull on each of the characters which leaves them feeling a little disconcerted in ways that relate directly and indirectly to the times they live in.
Erskine`s characters are well developed and resonate the times they lived in, they are historically accurate and interesting, their lives are not dull and their journeys  will  engage the reader, they reflect changing times.
The story well reflects the attitudes, views and challenges that face each set of characters, for example, the issue in contemporary times of walkers access to Farmers land which has been a bone of contention here as much as in England,the power of Feudal Lords in earlier times and the power that superstition played in these times.
The narrative moves along reasonable well but at times I felt that the change from one time period to another was a little too quick, it gave a choppy feel to the book and had the effect of cutting short my engagement with that particular part of the story, I felt in some parts of this book that I had just become engaged and then bang! we were off somewhere else without the bridging that makes this type of writing run smoothly.
The characters were a rather mixed bunch which was good, you had your good, your bad and a couple who were downright nasty. I did however feel that there were just a few too many characters and it became a little hard to keep track of them all.
However even with this books faults, it was still a very good read, there is a warmth about Erskine`s books and I felt that her writing of the Anglo Saxon era was particularly well done, her attention to detail is excellent as is her ability to translate the influences of the time she is writing about and give the reader an understanding of what motivates her characters, especially her central characters. I felt very engaged with Eric and Edith and Dan but less so with Zoe and Ken whom I didn`t particularly like but that is personal preference and other readers may feel quite differently.
This book was supplied by HarperCollins Publishers via Booksellers NZ, I thank them for providing it.

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