The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
|The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Beautifully written if rather slow, this is pushed into recommendation territory by a stunning climax.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: November 2013|
|Publisher: Tinder Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Theodora Atwell is torn away from her much-loved brother at the age of 15, to be sent far from her home in Florida to Yonahlossee, where she's to have a fresh start after a mysterious event she blames herself for. Set in the 1930s to the backdrop of the Depression, we follow Thea as she tries to navigate her new surroundings and come to terms with the damage she's caused to her family.
This is a difficult one to work out my feelings about, in many ways. For the first three-quarters or so, it was one I was mentally filing in the category of books I admired rather more than I liked them. I couldn't really warm to Thea as a character - something of a deal-breaker for me personally - and I found it a bit on the slow side. That's not to say it wasn't a fairly enjoyable read despite the pacing; it's a beautifully-written book with some exquisite prose, and I'm tempted to reread it again to savour the writing more this time.
It's just that the general idea, if not the specific details, of why Thea was sent away is fairly obvious from early on, and it takes an awfully long time to get round to filling us in properly. The relationship Thea eventually embarks on at the camp is also rather predictable, although fairly well-handled.
And yet when I came to the last quarter, I was taken aback by just how powerful the ending was. It didn't hit me with the same electric shock that Love in Revolution by B R Collins did, admittedly, but it's up there with that novel as one of the best climaxes I've read this year. It took me by surprise just how much I was moved by the actions of a central character I hadn't thought I cared all that much about. It also made me rethink my opinion on the pacing, at least slightly. I think that part of the reason the ending is so hard-hitting is because of the slow burn to get there.
I don't think this is necessarily for everyone, but if you're happy for a rather leisurely read then this is well worth checking out. Moderate to high recommendation.
For another historical coming-of-age story, I loved Love in Revolution by B R Collins. That's being marketed towards teens while this is aimed at adults; both can be enjoyed whatever you are, I'd say.
For another historical recommendation, sticking to adult fiction in early 20th century America, perhaps my favourite novel of the year so far is the exquisite The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, a Prohibition-era literary thriller.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani at Amazon.com.
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