I finished Lovesong by Nikki Gemmell yesterday. I bought the book for .40p as a withdrawn from stock at my library. It was published in 2002, but from looking at the book it didn't get taken out much and is probably why it was withdrawn. It's not exactly the most exciting cover, I have to say, with it's olive and manila colours. But like I said it was 40 pence.
It's a weird book because it's the private letter to the heroine's unborn baby about her life and how this baby came into being. The story is autobiographical, but then told in third person. Lillie often refers to herself as "That Lillie is now doing this" and so on. It's weird and took a bit of getting used to.
Lillie was raised in a very reclusive mountain town where they don't like strangers. Religion reigns. Toe the line or be scorned. Lillie hates it, even as a child. One day the school is set fire to and Lillie confesses it was she who did it. Her punishment is a total ban from society and to be locked within her home until she turns 21, which suits her fine. Unfortunately, when 21 comes, Lillie finds she still isn't welcome into the community. She isn't free.
She's given a chance to go and stay with her Grandfather in England, Pretty much for her own good because everyone fears she'll go stir crazy or - God forbid - set fire to something in anger as the worry of her pyromania being reignited is always there under the surface of everyone's worry.
She is set free, sort of. She enjoys a new land and a sense of freedom she's not had since she was shut away at the age of thirteen. Romance blooms in her mind and body and grows wild in the fertility of her innocence and naivety. Something we expect in a sweet sixteen, but not so much at twenty-two.
So of course she makes mistakes. Leaves herself vulnerable. But this Lillie Bird is a weird person. She doesn't get emotional very often. She has insight - but then this story is all told in hindsight.
I hated the ending. Hated it. Sure it made me cry but not for any good reason and partially out of frustration. This was not an easy book to read, with it's total lack of quotation marks, ellipses, hell I'm not even sure she used a question mark. She warbles on in purple prose for paragraphs at a time and then I forget where the story was headed, or who was talking and had to backtrack. It commanded a lot of focus which I lack with the whole house here on vacation. Once I got used to the writing style it was fine, I understood the voice. I did flail about for the first thirty pages or so. Here's an example of the writing; where Lillie describes her home:
Tiriel and Rebecca (her parents)
had discovered the wooden building at a time when a horse had found shelter in an empty room and when the wind licked the leaves that had gathered on the floor and danced them through a tunnel from the front doorway to the back. The family mythology was steeped in the sinking shock of arrival, the skull-hole gaps for windows and doors, the walls stiffly flaking with a sunburnt paint-skin and the lace scraps on the main bedroom window speaking of love and some enigmatic loss, industrious euphoria then hasty abandonment. Rubbled around the house were sticks and logs bleached to the colour of bones and inside were depression era blankets that were scratchy chaff bags, news-paper-stuffed, and cow pats and animal remains and ghosts.
The whole books reads like that.
The story id good, I was really enjoying it and wanting to know what happens next. I couldn't really predict but as it's a love story the ending should always be the same. I have faith in that. I choose books because I like a happily ever after. Sadly, Nikki Gemmell didn't agree. She apparently didn't get the memo that love stories should have happy endings, or you annoy your reader. She must have watched the movie Love Story and thought - OH! That's how you do it. Make them cry and rip the HEA away from them at the last minute. Right.
No. Some folks like that, but not me. And it seems Gemmell wrote a another story with the same plot. How disappointing!!
Lillie bird is an interesting character for sure. I felt I was in a weird time warp reading this as if she was plucked right out of the 1930's and dropped into modern London. If Nikki Gemmell can her stories sorted with happy endings and leave a reader with a feeling of hope and mild jealousy then she'll be a fierce romance writer. She must stop with the subdural hematomas.
And the last thing about this to bug me - the last thing, is she's writing this story and saying it'll not be made available for the baby to read until it's eighteen.When everyone will know the truth - And sure I want to tell you the truth but if anyone wants to read the book I'll be giving the whole thing away and I just can't in good conscience. But here's a girl who's gown up under her town's hatred and distrust - permanently branded for a crime committed in childhood. No second chances. They won't believe the truth. None of them. Yet Lillie is so convinced that the truth will win out once she tells it, and I can see it won't make a difference to those people. It'll make everything worse. So there she is, heavy pregnant and ready to give birth any day still so damned naive, I wanted to smack her.