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A Stone's Throw by Fiona Shaw
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A Stone's Throw

by Fiona Shaw

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Well written, with some lovely prose, A STONE'S THROW follows Meg, a young British girl from the time her father left with her brother to when her son stands throwing stones with his teenage daughter at the funeral of his father.

While the writing was tight, with good characterisation of Meg and her husband as a reserved English couple, the themes were too complex for such a short book. I never really got to know the characters, and therefore couldn't relate that well to them. Perhaps that was an intentional technique to emphasize the extreme self-containment needed to sustain a lifetime of British stiff-upper-lip, but it only served to make the characters difficult for me to know.

Meg's husband George, too, was one dimensional as a character - throughout the book we only see him through the eyes of Meg and her son Will, and their view of him was rather harsh. I would have liked to get behind his reserve to find out his thoughts on the compromises he had to make throughout his marriage to Meg.

Interesting enough for me to want to finish it, the first part (up to the end of Meg's boat journey during WW2), was wonderful, but ultimately I was left somewhat frustrated and rather sad at such a passionless existence, although Meg's encouragement of Will to live his life on his terms offered some hope. ( )
  JudyCroome | Aug 5, 2013 |
Fiona Shaw returns to World War Two for the setting of her fourth novel, A Stone's Throw. Young Meg Bryan embarks on a perilous voyage at the height of the conflict, leaving her home in England to marry her fiancé George Garrowby, whose business interests lie in Africa. The trouble is that, under the belief that she has no choice, Meg is leaving a world that holds no opportunity to marry a man she does not love. The voyage out is eventful and traumatic. Meg nearly loses her life, and most certainly loses her heart, and arrives in Africa a changed woman. Years later, back in England, Meg's son Will loses his best friend Benjamin in a freak accident, and out of guilt buries his grief and denies his true nature. Shaw's novel is about regret for the path not taken. Meg and Will, mother and son, both choose duty over desire. The novel is honest and bold, with its suggestion that the path to happiness is rarely straightforward. In the end Meg and Will each attain a kind of fulfillment. They have suffered and made mistakes, but have built worthy lives. The novel succeeds by leaving it up to the reader to decide if the choices Meg and Will have made are the right ones. A Stone's Throw is subtle and effective, and an engrossing work of fiction. ( )
  icolford | May 26, 2012 |
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What if following your heart takes you somewhere you just cannot bear to go? You must choose how you live your life. And as you are my son, William, I tell you that you, and you alone, must do the choosing. Like everyone, Meg has made choices over the course of her life; for the most part, she is proud of the decisions she made, but that does not mean she is not without regrets, not haunted by questions of what might have been -- What if her older brother had not gone missing when she was just a child? What if she had married for love, rather than duty? What if she told her son why it matters so much that he, unlike her, listens to his heart? Set in England and Africa, and opening during World War Two, this is a novel about family, about love, about duty; it is about the people we miss and the secrets we keep. Above all though, it is about the choices we make -- and those we do not make.… (more)

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