09/06/2005

Acting Up

I've enjoyed most of Libby Purves' novels. She's best known as a journalist and reporter, but in the last ten years or so has produced an interesting set of novels. Each stands alone and alongside very low-key romance and mostly people-driven plot, she tends to address some controversial issues through the eyes of her characters.

This book is about two soldiers, Callum and Susie, who postpone their wedding to go and join the British Forces in Iraq. Callum is injured in a traumatic way and finds it very hard to deal with life as he convalesces. Military stories don't generally interest me at all, so I did find myself skimming some of the army talk; nonetheless I felt I had a better understanding of what would make people go to war in this kind of way. Purves doesn't take any clear point of view for or against the war, which I felt was helpful; she simply portrays it the way various types of people see it.

Most of the story takes place after Callum's injury, however, when Susie is home on leave and trying to look after him. The plot is enlivened too by Susie's brother Francis, who is making a name for himself as a singer and dancer - in women's clothing. I found Francis to be perhaps the most sympathetic character in the book, despite his lifestyle being far removed from mine!

There were no great shocks, no unexpected developments of the sort I often find with this author, but it was eminently readable in typical terse but well-written style. Not my favourite Purves novel, but still one that I will doubtless read again in a few years.

No comments: