20/01/2007

Return to the Wells (by Lorna Hill)

'Return to the Wells' is seventh in Lorna Hill's series for teenagers about the ballet world. As a teenager myself, I read and re-read the first four in the series and loved them, but had no idea there were more. Apparently there are 12 or 13 altogether, all out of print, so I was delighted when I discovered this one at a charity shop.

Alas, once I started reading, my delight evaporated.

Whereas the first four books were written in the first person, albeit by different characters, this one is written in the third person. It doesn't even focus on just one or two people, the viewpoint dots around all over, and even includes some cringeworthy author asides, almost reminiscent of Victorian novels, but worse.

Nor is the story very interesting. It's supposed to be complete in itself, so I assumed that it wouldn't matter that I hadn't read the fifth or sixth in the series. But I found myself bewildered by multiple characters and subplots, some of which had nothing to do with the main story. Even that was rather convoluted, involving a ballet dancer called Ella who apparently ran away from Sadler's Wells - I didn't gather why - and is now returning. It seems she was an adopted child, from an exaggeratedly awful 'working class' background. Perhaps that was relevant in the earlier book that introduced Ella, but I couldn't see the point of the story popping back to 'Me Mam' every so often, to hear the unintelligent comments of the family who Ella seems to have cast aside in a rather snooty manner.

Then there's a foray into Switzerland when Ella recovers from an illness, which adds nothing at all to the story, and seems to be padding.

Not recommended, unless you've read the first six and want to know what happens to all the characters. I have one more in this series, but begin to think I should just have re-read the first four, which I still remember fondly.

Not in print in either the USA or UK; sometimes available second-hand, but often pricey.

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