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chesilbeach

Tyne and Wear - Another World by Pat Barker

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TYNE AND WEAR
 
Another World by Pat Barker
 
Synopsis:
At 101 years old, Geordie, a proud Somme veteran, lingers painfully through the days before his death. His grandson Nick is anguished to see this once-resilient man haunted by the ghosts of the trenches and the horror surrounding his brother's death. But in Nick's family home the dark pressures of the past also encroach on the present. As he and his wife Fran try to unite their uneasy family of step- and half-siblings, the discovery of a sinister Victorian drawing reveals the murderous history of their house and casts a violent shadow on their lives . . .


Other Tyne and Wear books:
The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
Skellig by David Almond

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(I was sure other people had read this already?)
 

Copied from my blog...

 

Nick and his wife Fran live in an old Victorian Villa. They’ve been married for a few years and it’s the second time round for both - each has a child from their first relationship whilst they also have a toddler together and one on the way. Fran’s son lives with them whilst Nick’s daughter Miranda lives with her mother and comes to stay for the holidays. Whilst renovating their house they discover a painting which has lain undiscovered behind years of wallpaper – research reveals that the people in the picture are the Fanshawes who lived in the house around a hundred years or so before and who, as Nick’s daughter Miranda observes, could be them.

Family life is challenging for the couple, and as well as dealing with the difficulties of what is sometimes known as a blended family, Nick also becomes the main carer for his beloved grandfather, Geordie, a WW1 veteran who is dying.

The book starts so promisingly and seemed as though it was going to be a ghost story, or at least have some kind of supernatural element, but the business with the Fanshawe family is not fully explored, which was a real disappointment. Geordie is the best character in this book. The way Barker writes about his impending death is very touching and very real – Geordie may be old and may be reaching the end of his life, but he is proud and his loss of dignity is a real frustration for him. He is troubled by flashbacks to the First World War where he came home but his brother, their mother’s favourite, didn’t. As Geordie’s life reaches its conclusion his survivor’s guilt comes to the fore. I liked his relationship with Nick. Unfortunately, the story which promised so much failed to deliver for me and left me feeling unsatisfied. If it wasn’t for the fact that this was a Counties Challenge book, and for the character of Geordie, I probably wouldn’t have finished it, which is a real shame as I enjoyed the writing.

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Janet's review also sums up my feelings on it perfectly. I think I would have always finished this book, because ultimately I was expecting the ending to tie up all the missing elements that had left me so confused about where exactly the story was going. Then it didn't!

 

I wouldn't dismiss this author again, but I won't seek out her work either. I enjoyed the writing style, but it left me so frustrated. Did she want it to be a supernatural story? Did she want that element of mystery? Did she want it to be the focus on the family dynamic? Or did she want Geordie to be the focus? (It should definitely have been the last one). It just felt like four short stories tied together ineffectively to me. 

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