17/04/2006

Lime Street at Two

Having been gripped by the first three autobiographical books by Helen Forrester, I was looking forward to this, the fourth and last. I thought perhaps it would fill in the gaps during her young adult life that were rapidly skimmed at the end of the third book (By the Waters of Liverpool).

Sadly, I was disappointed. Yes, it filled in some of the gaps and told us more of her romances in the war years, but I didn't find this book nearly so interesting or so well-written as the previous ones. Instead it seemed to slot anecdotes in randomly between general facts and figures relating to the war. No doubt it's useful as a piece of social history from a first-person viewpoint, but whereas the earlier books read like stories, and were very moving as a result, this one left me almost cold. I almost wished I hadn't bothered, since the first three books seem complete in themselves, with a conclusion at the end of the third that takes us right up to the time when she started writing.

I didn't even feel that this book ended satisfactorily - it suddenly came to an end, with the end of the war, but did not leave much hope for the future or any clue what the author might have done later in her life. Since I had already read the third book, I knew what the future held, but for anyone picking this volume up without having read the others, it would be rather frustrating. There's a lot of reference to people from the other books but without much to capture interest, even for someone like me who had felt totally involved with their lives in the earlier books.

To be fair, it's not badly written and for someone interested in the war years it's probably worth reading. But it was a great disappointment when read directly after the others in the series.

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