Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kipling and Trix by Mary Hamer

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: July 12, 2015

As small children, Rudyard Kipling and his sister Trix lived an enchanted life in India playing with their beloved servants and running around freely. Their innocent happiness came to an abrupt end when they were sent back to England to live with strangers and forced to conform to the strict rules of Edwardian society in an alien country. Both brother and sister grew up to become writers, although one lived in the shadow of the other's genius. Rudyard Kipling's incredible life is known to many while his poetry and books have been read by millions – but what became of his talented younger sister? Her story, full of love and lies, became a distressing family secret that was hidden from the world... Mary Hamer has unearthed the truth about Alice Kipling, known to her family affectionately as Trix. In this fictionalised account of their lives, the author goes to the heart of the relationship between a difficult brother and his troubled sister and explores how their early lives shaped the very different people they were later to become.

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Biographic fiction is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres, so I assumed Mary Hamer's Kipling and Trix would be something of a slam dunk. Based on the early lives of the famed writer and his younger sister Alice, the prize winning fiction held much promise, but the realities failed to meet my expectations, I feel the time I gave to this piece misspent. 

To get right to the point, Hamer's handling of the material left much to be desired. Her characterizations fell flat and the novel's tone was far too academic for my tastes. The pacing drags throughout the telling and I found it incredibly difficult to engage in the story Hamer put forth.

The research is well-done, Hamer obviously cares a great deal for the material, but her style and approach didn’t inspire my imagination and I found it very easy to put the book aside for other publications. I managed to push through to the end, but the story never pulled me in. 

At the end of the day, I found the material in Kipling and Trix historically interesting, but I didn’t care for the narration and would have a hard time recommending it forward. 

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Then, almost the very next week, Ruddy published that really quite scurrilous attack on Roberts. Lockwood was not confident in his own mind that he knew how to account for his son’s behaviour. Terms like ‘integrity’ or ‘the duty of a journalist’ did not quite seem to fit the case.
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