A World Away by Pauline Francis
|A World Away by Pauline Francis|
|Reviewer: Karen Inskip-Hayward|
|Summary: A well-researched adventure story, but rather dull for me.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 272||Date: August 2008|
|Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd|
A World Away by Pauline Francis is the kind of novel where a good idea could have produced a great book – but somehow it doesn't quite work. The plot is an interesting one initially, but the story drags and I found it hard getting through it.
The story is set in 1586. A young Native American Indian girl called Nadie is brought over to England and begins to live in Plymouth, where the women are regarded in a different way. With Nadie's unusual dress and copper jewellery, she is treated as a curiosity at best and a freak at worst. She takes a long time to adapt to her new life in this strange land, slowly adapting her behaviour and appearance to the English way. Facing animosity from most of the locals, she struggles to fit in.
Tom, the local blacksmith, is a young man who does feel differently though. He finds himself attracted to Nadie and they soon develop a relationship, despite vehement opposition from his mother and Abigail – the young girl who wants to marry him.
The time comes for Nadie to go home, but she will not be returning alone. A group of English people are also facing the risky journey across the sea to become the first colony of the New World. Will Nadie and Tom be parted forever?
The novel is an adventure story a la Robinson Crusoe and takes us on a journey through the climate, tribes, traditions and dangers of life in the New World. In this way, it is educational to an extent and does give a feel of the period and the differing cultures. Although a work of fiction, the author notes how the idea came about and the historical background to the tale.
A World Away is written in the first person, with alternate chapters giving us the voices of Nadie and Tom. The chapters are fairly short, so it does not look too daunting if you are not an avid reader or if you don't have the time for a more weighty tome.
The novel is classed as children's fiction, but the content is sometimes sexual, sometimes violent and I would not want my twelve-year-old reading it. I would say the book is suitable for competent teenage readers of around fourteen onwards, but whether the content would hold their attention, I don't know. I suspect my children would regard it as boring.
I found it tedious reading. While some sections were interesting and I soon warmed to the main characters, it all became rather dull. The stylised way Nadie's part is written was irritating at times. The story seemed to go backwards and forwards and was often running on the spot, as I felt there was far too much padding.
I also found the novel to be quite depressing. I understand that books aren't always there to make you feel happy, but this one seemed full of death. Even the deaths were often tedious and I can only think of one character where I was actually sorry to read of their passing. Everyone else could have died in the first chapter and saved me the bother of reading the other 250-odd pages.
For an historical novel which we can recommend you might like to try Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo.
You can read more book reviews or buy A World Away by Pauline Francis at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A World Away by Pauline Francis at Amazon.com.
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