Book Review – Un-stable Lane by Julie Round.

December 20, 2011

This is the second instalment of a family saga that started with Lanes End by the same author, which I reviewed in August 2010.  It picks up the family, Grandmother Rose, daughter Katie her husband Bernard and infant Heather, where the last novel left off with them living on a fictional small holding near a seaside town.  There is no real need to have read the previous book to understand the problems the family encounter when facing up to the challenges of everyday life.

Bernard has had learning difficulties since he was a child and it’s the rest of the family coping with this and the economic pressures of running a small family business that dominates their world.  Katie is tempted to seek the company of another man outside her marriage and Bernard is worried by his daughter being better at learning than he is.  A figure from his past arrives at the Lane which unsettles the family that, as in the first book, is held together by the dominant Rose.

The problems they face are easy for the reader to identify with and how the characters cope with them are sympathetically drawn.  I would have liked to know a little more about what cause the fire in the Bingo Hall kitchen but the explosion and its aftermath was well described.  The description of the storm that engulfs Lanes End is one of the best I have read.  I could hear the wind, feel the rain, and sense the cold.

Although much is settled at the end of the book there is a sense that there some aspects left unresolved which makes it very true to life.  This is a well crafted story which is a delight to read and is highly recommended.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press (http://peatmore.com)

Un-stable Lane is published by Oldstick Books
(http://www.oldstickbooks.co.uk/)

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Book Review – Lane’s End by Julie Round

August 10, 2010

This is a compelling story with a moving central character.  It has a poignant theme showing that no matter how much you strive to succeed in life the motives and actions of others will affect the outcome.

The descriptions of the various forms of bullying Bernard receives are unfortunately very believable and highlight attitudes of many who make no attempt to understand persons less able than themselves.  Those that suffer with learning difficulties are particularly at risk since their problems are not outwardly apparent.  The attitude of some of the social service professions encountered by the family was most disturbing and shows the fallibility of modern day bureaucracies that are there to protect the vulnerable.

The meeting between Katie and Bernard seemed on first reading to be too much of a coincidence but such coincidences do happen and at that point in the story Bernard needed a break.

Bernard’s tale is one of heartache and struggle but shows with help and understanding it is possible to win through.   Much of that help is provided by Zack and Rose, who come across as examples of life’s unsung heroes and heroines.  Without such people it is impossible to see how any of us, let alone the intellectually disadvantaged, can adapt to the everyday stresses of living which is a point that comes across strongly in this thought provoking narrative.

Keith Jahans

Editor, Peatmore Press (http://peatmore.com).

Lane’s End is published by Old Stick Books: http://www.oldstickbooks.co.uk