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Eve Green (2004)

by Susan Fletcher

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5871831,190 (3.45)20
Following the loss of her mother, eight-year-old Evie is sent to a new life in rural Wales. With a sense of being lied to she sets out to discover her family's dark secret - unaware that there is yet more darkness to come with the sinister disappearance of local girl Rosemary Hughes.

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English (16)  Finnish (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Very good. Worth seeing if Fletcher's follow up i any good ( )
  oldblack | May 1, 2020 |
This is a superbly crafted novel: a thing of beauty in which every word is polished. It is the sort of writing designed to inform and draw the reader in, rather than the sort that's just there to be showy. It's a gentle read, one that develops slowly, but there are still moments of excellent drama. My favourite part was the fight in the dinner hall, and most specifically the line "I managed to scoop up some cheese pie and push it into her hair" - I think it was the sheer superfluousness of it that was the most satisfying! Other authors might be happy with a couple of blows to the face and some smashed crockery on the floor, but this author goes the extra mile! I was mentally cheering along with every other survivor of bullying on the planet. There were points along the way where I found the narrator's and other people's decisions odd, but it was good to find that on turning the last page I could understand how everything that come about and why people had acted as they did. ( )
  jayne_charles | Nov 23, 2017 |
Evangeline is barely eight when her single mother dies, forcing a move from Birmingham to her grandparents’ farm in southwest Wales. She quickly forms an alliance with Daniel, her grandfather’s farmhand, sixteen years her senior, who will eventually become her romantic partner. The locals scorn the 16-year age difference between these two, but the greater creep factor resides in 24-year-old Daniel’s having hung out with the 8-year-old Eve and watched her grow over the years—very Woody-Allenish, and not in a good way. (Daniel’s relationship to Eve is revealed early on in the book, which generally reads as a kind of jumbled retrospective: on the brink of her thirtieth birthday and heavily pregnant, Eve recalls the key events to this point in her life.)

As she grows up on the farm, Eve pieces together the story of her dark-haired mother’s life and love. Eve learns about her Irish scoundrel father who passed on to her the flaming red hair that Mr. Phipps, the surly shopkeeper, sneers at. She also recounts the story of golden-haired Rosie Hughes, with her perfect skin and smile, a well-to-do girl just a little older than Eve, who disappeared one spring or summer. (An aside: Fletcher generally handles details of time poorly throughout this novel. The reader is often uncertain if Eve is eight, eleven, fifteen, or some other age. The protagonist’s observations provide no reliable clues upon which to make inferences either. Eve shows signs of sexual possessiveness shortly after her arrival in Wales, for example, when she is supposed to be only eight.) Eve’s story proper will conclude with a false accusation, an encounter with the likely perpetrator/abductor, and a raging fire.

Eve Green is a first novel, and it shows: it's narrated in the first person; it's a coming-of-age tale; it contains a cast of pretty flat, stereotypical characters (Red hair is shorthand for impetuousness and hot-temper, and crotchety old people can be counted on to address a naughty girl as “young lady” before banishing her to her bedroom for a fortnight); there's a dull-and-done-before storyline; the novel includes banal musings, apparently meant to be profound, about the nature of love and the importance of names; and, there are lots of overwritten descriptive sections—i.e., frequent passages of four or five sentences when a single pared-down one would do. Worst of all: the author shows minimal insight into and little ability to convincingly portray the mind and perceptions of a bereaved eight-year-old child.

This novel was in serious need of an overseer who could ruthlessly curb its author’s default tendency towards the twee. A good editor would,for example, have promptly put Eve’ s commentary on “influenza”--among others--on the chopping block: “it [influenza] should have been a girl’s name—a sultry, hot-eyed girl from some where tropical, with flowers in her hair and swaying hips.” Likewise her overblown musings on her mother’s written signature: “Bronwen. Dark and pure. The o is as flawless as a star, as open as a window. I look at it and [ . . . ] I want to crawl into that letter, right into the warm wanting heart of my mother before it stopped beating . . . " (Oh dear. I wanted to crawl somewhere else. It made me wince.)

I am very surprised that this rural soap opera, with all the clichéd features that give “women’s fiction”a bad name, should have been honoured with a Whitbread first-book award. What exactly were the judges thinking? The author occasionally shows promise by presenting a compelling scene: for example, the one in which the cows contract trench foot after heavy rains and are moved to an abandoned field. However, these are few and far between. The writing is mostly glib and wrongly toned: in short, amateur. It doesn’t serve the story or help you believe it; it distracts and detracts.

Some may enjoy this book as easy, escapist fiction. However, if you need reasonably good writing to be transported, you will only find yourself stuck in a really bad book. I will never open another novel by Ms. Fletcher.

Rating: 1.5 rounded up to 2 . . . because, yes, I am sorry to say that I have actually read even worse. ( )
1 vote fountainoverflows | Jun 29, 2017 |
Evangeline's story begins In Birmingham where her mother commits suicide and, at seven years old, she is sent to live with her maternal grandparents in Wales. She has never met her father and her friends consist of one outcast boy from school, a 23 year old farm hand, and a reclusive. seemingly mentally ill man who frequents the woods near her grandparent's farm. Everyone else represents jealousy and danger. When a blond, blue eyed classmate goes missing Eve's world is turned upside down. It doesn't help that she didn't really like Rosie, nor that her reclusive friend is a suspect. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 12, 2015 |
This book was ok. An easy read but slow. ( )
1 vote clodagho | Jan 2, 2012 |
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For Mum, Dad and Michael, with love
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On white paper my mother has written,
"Last night I walked where he had. My legs took me there. Through the bracken, and I sat on the gate again. What makes freckles? I shall ask him. The bats were out, and I watched them for nearly tho hours.
I don't know his surname, I don't even know his age. But this is the start of something. I stand on the edge. I write it and know it."
She was right, of course.
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Following the loss of her mother, eight-year-old Evie is sent to a new life in rural Wales. With a sense of being lied to she sets out to discover her family's dark secret - unaware that there is yet more darkness to come with the sinister disappearance of local girl Rosemary Hughes.

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Average: (3.45)
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