The Tiny Gestures of Small Flowers by Emily Critchley
|The Tiny Gestures of Small Flowers by Emily Critchley|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Stephen Leach|
|Summary: Interesting ideas to be found here but the way this story is told doesn't quite do them justice.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2021|
|Publisher: Everything With Words|
|External links: Author's website|
The Tiny Gestures of Small Flowers had all the hallmarks of something good. I was intrigued by the plot, liked the design of the book, and thought the author's work sounded interesting. From the outset it all looked incredibly promising. So what on earth went wrong here?
I really wanted to like this more than I did. There's a lot of potential in this book, occasional moments where I longed for something a bit more interesting and didn't get it. It's not a great sign when the main takeaway you have from reading something is what it could have been, not what it actually was.
The setup of the story is promising enough: wanting to escape her old life and having moved down to Brighton, seventeen year-old Eleanor rapidly becomes involved in a turbulent and eventually abusive relationship with an older man. It's fascinating seeing how someone can become involved in this sort of scenario; the ways in which abusers break people down and slowly work towards isolating them from everyone else in their lives. And it's heartbreaking to see someone become a victim of this sort of abuse and change so thoroughly. This was one of the highlights of the read for me, and the novel could have been just about that and I wouldn't have complained. Yet I found the character of Scott, her boyfriend, not particularly well-fleshed out; we learn various details about him but I kept feeling that there was more to discover.
Principally, it was the writing style I found unengaging. It moved along at a slow sort of pace and never sped up; I never felt any sense of jeopardy or stakes. What really disappointed me, though, was how easily and quickly the major conflict of the novel was wrapped up. Without spoilering too heavily, I felt completely cheated of any resolution or justice – it felt as though the author felt that the conflict really needed to end quickly, but couldn't think of a more interesting way to resolve it.
At its heart, I felt that this was a good story – I just didn't think it was told as well as it could have been. And in its own way, that's more disappointing than reading a bad book.
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