Sunday, December 6, 2015

No Place For A Lady by Gill Paul

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: December 4, 2015

All’s fair in love and war... 1854. England is in the grip of a gruesome war. Lucy Harvington, ill-educated beyond how to be a wife, has travelled to the Crimea with her handsome and impetuous officer husband Charlie. As the day of battle dawns she can only pray her husband survives. If he doesn’t, what will become of her? Dorothea Gray, volunteer nurse at the Westminster Hospital, is determined to follow her little sister Lucy to the front and to serve her country alongside her heroine Florence Nightingale and the pioneering nurses already risking their lives. But neither sister could possibly have known the horrors they are about to witness – the courage, the cowardice, the danger – and the excitement – nor could they have guessed the risks they must take, the passion they will taste, and the simple fact that they may never see one another again...

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Before I get too far ahead of myself, I'd like to note that most readers enjoyed Gill Paul's No Place for a Lady far more than I did. I respect that tastes vary, but I want to acknowledge myself among the minority just the same and caution prospective readers to take my commentary, such as it is, with a grain of salt. 

Still with me? That's good. I appreciate those who keep an open mind. Nothing against those who bailed on reading this review, but if you're still here, point to you. I suppose my biggest issue with No Place for a Lady is that I couldn't get into the narrative. The plot and character development is sluggish to say the least and the plot plodding. I wanted to get swept up in the story, but it never took off, never swept me into the Crimean conflict, never drew me into the tension around which the story unfolds. 

It didn't help that I liked Dorothea more than Lucy. Something about her personality held more appeal which probably explains why I felt the novel distinctly one-sided. Dorothea's story line was more compelling in my eyes, I could sink my teeth into the themes despite my frustration over the novel's construction. Conversely, Lucy's story line bored me to tears and I often struggled to remain engaged long enough to finish her chapters of the narrative. 

Historically I think Paul touched on a lot of interesting material, but the presentation was handicapped by languid pacing and development. I enjoyed the prose well-enough and generally speaking, liked the direction the author chose, but that doesn't change the fact that the story was too damned slow. 

I honestly mean no offense to the author, but I'm a single-mom with a side gig commonly known as a full-time job. I read to escape the monotony and pressures of my everyday responsibilities and have little time for fiction that leaves me at the Sandman's mercy. 

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There is a bright flash down below, then a deafening explosion shakes the ground and she sinks to her knees in terror. ‘Dear God,’ she prays silently. ‘Please save Charlie and please save me. I want to go home again. I want to go back where we belong.’
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