Sing to Silent Stones: Violet's War (Sing to Silent Stones 1) by David Snell
|Sing to Silent Stones: Violet's War (Sing to Silent Stones 1) by David Snell|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: First book in an intelligently written family saga, taking us back to family saga heyday heaven. This trip we're transported between pre-WWI and pre-WWII.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 576||Date: July 2016|
|Publisher: Hornet Books|
Although born to Victorian parents, Violet is a modern Edwardian young woman. She believes in women's suffrage and the right to fall in love with whomever she chooses. Her choice is Frank Balfour, one of her father's employees which is not without its problems. Encouragingly for some people around Violet, as war darkens the nation's mood, Frank goes to do his bit. This leaves Violet with more than memories of their fond farewell; Frank leaves her a son. What follows feels like the end of her life to Violet but it's just the beginning of adventures that will take her to war too; behind enemy lines to witness dark days and amazing bravery.
David Snell has gathered his family stories and fictionalised them in this, his debut and the first in the Sing to Silent Stones trilogy. It's a panoramic read, taking in suffragette demonstrations, WWI through the eyes of both solider and nurse and post-war adjustment for those left behind.
Occasionally some of the dialogue may seem a little stilted but the subject matter and story itself continue to wash away any momentary concerns. From the prologue to that final satisfying page, it's a well packed family saga of the sort I loved in my teens with added benefits. I don't remember the doorstep-sized delights of my youth being as brimmed full of such excellently utilised research from prologue to satisfying final page.
In the midst of the centenary, we may feel we've read everything war commemorative writing can throw at us and yet in some superlative battle scenes, David manages to shock us anew. He transports us to the blood, gore and stench that resulted from savage conflict and sometimes daft decisions. Then, when Violet gets involved, we have a wartime thriller on our hands.
Talking about the prologue, I was a little worried that it contained too many spoilers. Even before meeting Frank we know about his death and the baby (also named Frank), but by worrying we underestimate David's ability. Think of it as a teaser rather than a spoiler for there's much to come. He definitely has some surprises.
For instance, ignore what you may have heard about men not being able to write romance. Violet has the good sense to fall in love with guys who melt our soul and in one case, our temper. The temper bit also goes for our reaction to Frank's school days; definitely not written for the boarding school marketing board!
As we near the end we witness people of certain ethnicities and backgrounds being brought in to play to stand us in good stead for what lays ahead. In some writers' hands the manoeuvrings needed for this may be clumsy and intrusive. David provides a deft touch that heightens our anticipation as, even in their childhood, we try to second guess their futures. Oh yes, it's not just the characters who are ready for Book 2.
(Thank you, Hornet Books, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If this appeals and you'd like another great family saga, we also heartily recommend The Heart of the Night by Judith Lennox.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sing to Silent Stones: Violet's War (Sing to Silent Stones 1) by David Snell at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sing to Silent Stones: Violet's War (Sing to Silent Stones 1) by David Snell at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.