Tuesday, July 31, 2018

#AuthorInterview: Historical Fiction Interview with Suzy Henderson, author of The Beauty Shop

Genre
War Era Historical
Biographic Fiction

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Social Media
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter

DESCRIPTION: 
War changes everyone, inside and out. The remarkable true story of the Guinea Pig Club.

England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.

Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.

John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.

Shy, decent and sensible Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realises her own battle has only just begun.

Based on a true story, "The Beauty Shop" is a moving tale of love, compassion, and determination against a backdrop of wartime tragedy.

Welcome to Historical Fiction Reader Suzy. It’s a pleasure to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us about The Beauty Shop.
Hello. It’s a pleasure to be here and thank you for inviting me along today to talk about my new book, The Beauty Shop. Based on a true story, via three interlocking experiences of WW2, the novel explores the nature of good looks, social acceptance and the true meaning of skin deep.

Where did you find this story?
I was lost in the archives, researching Bomber and Fighter Command when I came across the story of Fighter pilot Geoffrey Page who was shot down during the Battle of Britain. He suffered severe burns and later became one of the founder members of the Guinea Pig Club. Straight away I was hooked, and after discovering the work of plastic surgeon, Archibald McIndoe, I knew I had to tell the story.

Your characterization of Dr. Archibald McIndoe is easily my favorite. Can you tell us a bit about his background and his work? 
Archie, as he was often called, was born and raised in New Zealand. He was a high achiever even as a boy, and a very determined, intelligent spirit. After training to become a doctor, he gained a scholarship at the Mayo Clinic in America and trained to become a gastric surgeon, operating on one of the brothers of the gangster, Al Capone on one occasion. He didn’t know that at the time, of course. A chance encounter coupled with Archie’s restless spirit would bring him to London in 1931 with his wife and small daughter. He soon joined his cousin, Harold Gillies, a plastic surgeon who had operated on many WW1 veterans, rebuilding their shattered faces. Gillies taught Archie the tools of the trade, and it soon became apparent that Archie had a natural talent for plastic surgery. Archie’s life experiences informed his practice at the beginning of the war when the first casualties began to arrive. He was determined that the young airmen before him were not ‘finished’ as they so often thought. He was determined to do whatever it took for them to live full lives, and to be accepted back into society. It was his brilliance, his humanity that captured my mind right from the start.

Ward III is a unique place. What do you hope readers take from your descriptions of McIndoe’s patients, their wounds, and their treatment?
Disfigurement and disablement as a result of burns injuries still occurs today. I hope that readers will see that people with such injuries are still the same inside – ‘beauty is more than skin-deep.’ I hope readers will gain an appreciation of what the WW2 veterans endured for us – not many know the story of the Guinea Pig Club, and so I wished to shine the light on this small and yet significant piece of history. With regards to the treatment, it was often experimental, which to me, illustrates the brilliance of McIndoe, and his indomitable pioneering spirit and work which formed the foundations of modern-day plastic surgery.

I found your dogfight scenes are flawlessly written. How did you even begin to write such vivid aerial warfare? 
I’m so pleased you asked me about the action scenes. First of all, I read many books, fiction and non-fiction, which was heaven because I’m so obsessed with military aviation. I wrote the bombing mission scenes as an outline at first, rather like a sketch before studying USAAF and the Luftwaffe. Next came the films. I love Memphis Belle and just being able to see those aircraft flying in formation gave me a lot of inspiration. I also spent many hours watching old archived films of various bomber squadrons from the war. Possibly the best film I watched was Twelve O’Clock High (1949). Later releases such as Red Tails and the new official trailer for the long-awaited Mighty Eighth was also fantastic – seriously, this is going to be amazing to watch. I find I’m a very visual learner and so I feel I gained more from watching as opposed to reading and I think this is reflected in the scenes which are action-packed and have a lot of imagery to carry them through.

Alex is a supporting character, but he suffers war injuries that even McIndoe can’t treat. Why did you feel it important to illustrate battle fatigue, PTSD, and depression?
Anyone who suffers a trauma is at risk from PTSD. Back in WW1 servicemen were often labelled as showing “lack of moral fibre” and called cowards. By WW2, it wasn’t much better, but it was at least recognised by psychiatrists as a real illness. That said, there was a distinct lack of expertise in how to treat it, and it was not something that was universally accepted by the military. Many of the burned airmen suffered depression and struggled to cope with their disfigurements, and in some cases, their loss of identity. A small number committed suicide. Can you imagine being handsome one day and having your entire face burned away the next? You’ll never look the same again, and even your family may not recognise you. Not only might you suffer from the battles you’ve endured and from the action that caused your injuries, but now you’re facing a different fight altogether. It’s a highly emotive topic, and while I did not go into specific detail, I felt it important to acknowledge the condition, and for people to be aware of this. It is as relevant today as it was back then.

As a historic novelist, your stories obviously take place in eras that are very different from today. Was it easy for you to sort of step back in time to write about the war era?
Another fantastic question. As I’m so obsessed with the WW2 period and read a lot of associated fiction and non-fiction, I did find it relatively easy in a sense. It’s weird to say this, but it was a little like coming home. Of course, I still had to rely on the research to ensure the historical facts were accurate. The most difficult issue I had was trying to depict the real character, Archibald McIndoe – he took a lot of time to develop.

What sort of research went into The Beauty Shop and what resources did find most valuable?
The research was all-consuming. Firstly, it was the usual factual research that is relevant to any historical period – dress, food, transport, etc. Secondly, I had to study the medical treatment available during WW2, more specifically, the treatment for burns. There was also a lot of research to do to flesh out Archibald McIndoe. My resources included biographies, historical accounts, old newsreels, radio broadcasts, films, newspapers and veteran’s personal accounts. I was also very fortunate in being able to speak with a few people who worked with and knew McIndoe, and also one of the guinea pigs, a veteran from WW2.

Do you have a favorite scene in The Beauty Shop? 
Deciding on a favourite scene is tough as I have several. I love Mac’s final bombing mission, but I think I’ll go with chapter three, the dance at Bassingbourn where Mac finally gets to meet Stella. It’s so romantic.

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author and why was it difficult to write?
It was chapter two, the first bombing mission. From a creative perspective, it was very difficult to get the detail precise, historically accurate and to bring everything together in that scene. Once I’d completed it, that made later bombing scenes more straightforward to write. Considering I’ve not had an opportunity to get inside a B-17, I managed to get a feel for the aircraft and an appreciation of what the men endured during those dark times by other means – thank you, internet!

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time writing about?
I’d have liked to have spent more time writing about the Guinea Pig Club, but as a writer, you have to balance everything in the story, and so it was that several scenes were cut. This would also have enabled me to focus more upon PTSD and on McIndoe.

Historical novelists frequently have to adjust for the sake of the story. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing The Beauty Shop and if so, what did you alter? 
Dare I say I took small liberties. My male protagonist, Mac, is treated by Archie in the story, but in reality, I doubt this would have happened. USAAF took care of their own casualties. However, the Guinea Pig Club did have American fighter pilots – men who joined the RAF to fight the war before the US became involved. So, in a sense, I justified using Mac because he represented the American ‘guinea pigs.’ The reason he’s there is simple – he came through perfectly formed, a full character with a back story and more importantly, a face and a persona, whereas the first candidate, a British Bomber Command pilot, did not – blame it on the author’s whacky imagination. What can I say – sometimes the muse guides you in a different direction.

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you invite out and why?
It would have to be Archie, but I’m very tempted by Richard Hillary and Mac (sighs). No, it would be Archie, absolutely. He was an amazing man, and after everything I discovered about him, I’m still on a quest to uncover more.

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast to play the leads in a screen adaptation of The Beauty Shop, who would you hire?
That’s a tough question, but after a lot of thought, I decided that Colin Firth would be great as Archie, although I have Tom Hanks in reserve – I wonder what everyone else thinks? After several auditions, I offered Saorise Ronan the role of Stella and Henry Cavill the role of Mac. Alex proved difficult, but I thought perhaps James McAvoy would do the role justice. I’d love to know the readers’ thoughts on this one. I have a feeling I’d be a useless casting director!

Finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? 
My next book is almost written and then it’s back to the edits and re-writes, but I’m hoping to be able to release it by July 2017. It’s set during WW2 and focusses on a real woman who joined SOE (Special Operations Executive). In the words of Churchill, “Set Europe ablaze.” SOE has been written about over and over, but I have someone in the book with a determined voice, and this is her story, and it’s quite remarkable and tragic. This is her perspective, her war, and I’m merely the guide.

#BookReview: The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

Genre
War Era Historical
Biographic Fiction

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Social Media
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter

DESCRIPTION: 
War changes everyone, inside and out. The remarkable true story of the Guinea Pig Club.

England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.

Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.

John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.

Shy, decent and sensible Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realises her own battle has only just begun.

Based on a true story, "The Beauty Shop" is a moving tale of love, compassion, and determination against a backdrop of wartime tragedy.

REVIEW: 
Suzy Henderson's The Beauty Shop raised a few eyebrows when I mentioned it to friends. A friend accused me of getting soft on the understanding I was reading a story that takes place in a hair salon. Another sarcastically asked me to explain the role guinea pigs played in the most significant conflict of the twentieth century. Both individuals were surprised when I set the record straight, but the two incidents emphasized how easy it is to misinterpret the nature and scope of this surprising debut.

For those feeling a little lost, the novel's title is a reference to Ward III at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. Headed by Dr. Archibald McIndoe, the ward was tasked with treating airmen who suffered disfiguring burns and/or crash-related injuries in the line of duty. The work was challenging on its own, but it was complicated by the emotional instability of the patients, and the staff was forced to experimental and unorthodox methods in their effort to restore the independence, self-image, and well-being of the men they served. Recognizing the humor of their situation, the airman likened themselves to guinea pigs and formed a mutual support network that would total more than six hundred by the end of the war. Their willingness to go under the knife led to revolutionary gains in the field of plastic surgery and gave rise to a legacy that is both extraordinary and humbling.

The Beauty Shop pays tribute to this lesser-known chapter of the war by chronicling the fictional experiences of a young American pilot, his girl, and his surgeon. I found Mac and Stella interesting in their own ways, but it was Henderson's characterization of McIndoe and her recreation of his ward that set the book apart in my eyes. I felt the author's illustration of the charismatic surgeon and his innovative approach to treating the body and the mind fascinating, and feel the narrative as a whole gives a unique insight to war era medicine and the personnel at the forefront of its development.

Parts of the narrative, namely Stella's love life, felt needlessly complicated, and I think that Henderson could have done more with the supporting cast, but looking at the time I spent with this novel, I think it safe to say that its strengths outweigh its weaknesses. Henderson has room to grow as a storyteller, but her debut release speaks to both the creativity and compassion of her pen, and I for one can't wait to see how she'll channel those talents into her next project.

Highly recommended to fans of light romance and world war historicals.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: December 21, 2016

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Monday, July 30, 2018

#BookReview: That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson

Genre
War Era Historical
Young Adult Historical

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Social Media
Official Website
Twitter

DESCRIPTION: 
It’s July 1940 on the south coast of England. A plane crash-lands in the marsh, and sixteen-year-old Peggy finds its broken pilot—a young Polish airman named Henryk. Afraid and unwilling to return to the fight, Henryk needs a place to hide, and Peggy helps him find his way to a remote, abandoned church.

Meanwhile, Peggy’s eleven-year-old brother Ernest is doing his best to try to understand the war happening around him. He’s reading all the pamphlets—he knows all the rules, he knows exactly what to do in every situation. He’s prepared, but not for Peggy’s hidden pilot.

Told in alternating points of view, this is a beautifully written story about growing up in wartime and finding the difference between following the rules and following your heart.

REVIEW: 
It’s fair to say that Salt to the Sea and Code Name Verity have ruined me for YA historicals. I used to make allowances for less intricate storylines and less emotive characters, but Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein proved that fiction marketed to adolescents can be just as compelling and addictive as those written for the adult market. The efforts of both authors have raised my expectations of the genre, a fact which likely explains my lack of enthusiasm for Lydia Syson’s That Burning Summer.

I think the novel has a lot going for historically and feel it a creative means of teaching readers about the Battle of Britain and life on the homefront. I particularly enjoyed those passages that touched on the peace protests and conscious objector movement. I also appreciated Henryk as a representation of Polish pilots and their contribution to the war effort.

That said, I felt the novel lacked momentum, and often found myself bored with the style and tone of the telling. I’m not a writer and can’t put my finger on the exact issue, but something in the mechanics of the narrative didn’t mesh the way I needed it to. Much as I liked Syson’s ideas, I couldn’t lose myself in her prose and ultimately didn’t care how the story played out.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 6, 2017

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

#BookReview: The Trap by Dan Billany

Genre
War Era Historical

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
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Social Media
Official Website

DESCRIPTION: 
Lieutenant Michael Carr’s peaceful life in a Cornish village is shattered with the outbreak of the Second World War.

German planes are heard droning across darkening skies.

Towns are set ablaze by incendiary bombs.

And Cornwall, though seemingly safe and secluded, is not exempt from the devastation.

While Michael trains for the army in the Cornish countryside, he dreams of a future with this sweetheart, Elizabeth Pascoe.

But they are trapped by the war, which rages on, consuming and destroying ordinary life.

And it is not long before Michael is summoned far from England to the deserts around Tobruk.

Under an unrelenting sun, harried by German tanks, Michael’s life with Elizabeth, suddenly seems unbearably out of reach...

Can Michael survive the war and make it home to Elizabeth?

And even if he does, will things ever be the same again?

REVIEW: 
The premise of Dan Billany’s The Trap was too intriguing to ignore. The phrase “unsurpassed realism” jumped out at me, but I was also fascinated by the jacket description. War stories set in North Africa aren’t exactly common, and I was curious as to how the material would be treated by someone who’d experienced it. I didn’t register the bits about 1930s Britain, probably because the subject matter didn’t interest me all that much, but there is the rub as the chapters dedicated to the protagonist’s quiet life in Cornwall proved overwhelmingly dull and all but killed my interest in the novel.

The first half of the book is dedicated in large part to chronicling the life of Michael’s wife, Elizabeth. The prose is that of a more mature and expressive age, but the content is dry beyond measure. I simply didn’t care about Michael’s other half, and more than once caught myself neglecting the details of the plot. I flirted with the idea of abandoning the novel several times, but ultimately opted to skim through much of the first half of the narrative. Michael’s training proved more interesting, but I’d already begun to lose interest by the time he was sent to North Africa and struggled to get into the story despite the authenticity of Billany’s descriptions.

When push comes to shove, I appreciate The Trap for the insights it affords, but I’d have difficulty recommending forward. There is an abundance of scholarly merit in this piece, but I don’t think it well-suited for casual readers.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 6, 2017
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Saturday, July 28, 2018

#BookReview: Murder on Location by Cathy Pegau

Genre
Historical Mystery

Series
Charlotte Brody #3

Buy Links
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Amazon UK
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Social Media
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Twitter

DESCRIPTION: 
In the Alaska Territory, suffragette Charlotte Brody is a newspaper reporter in the frontier town of Cordova. She’s a woman ahead of her time living on the rugged edge of civilization—but right now the most dangerous element she faces may come from sunny California...

An expedition has arrived in the frigid wilderness to shoot North to Fortune—an epic motion picture featuring authentic footage of majestic peaks, vast glaciers, homesteaders, and Alaska Natives. But the film’s fortunes begin to go south as a local Native group grows angry at how they’re portrayed in the movie, fights break out, and cast and crew are beset by accidents and assaults. Finally, production is halted when the inebriated director falls into a crevasse—and dies of exposure.

Soon Michael Brody—the town coroner and Charlotte’s brother—starts to suspect that Mother Nature was not responsible for Stanley Welsh’s death. Charlotte, who’s been writing about all the Hollywood glamor, is suddenly covering a cold-blooded crime story—and as springtime storms keep the suspects snowed in, she has to make sure the truth doesn’t get buried...

REVIEW: 
I gushed over Cathy Pegau’s Murder on the Last Frontier in 2015. The fresh plot, unique setting, and strong characters came together in the best possible way and left me eager for the second installment. Book two, Borrowing Death, came out in 2016, and while I enjoyed the mystery well-enough, I had difficulty appreciating what Pegau was trying to do with the series as a whole. I was hesitant about book three, but nostalgia for the original story won out.

Unfortunately, my experience with Murder on Location is very likely my last with the Charlotte Brody mysteries. I mean no offense to Pegau or the readers who enjoyed the book, but the magic I felt with book one is not present this go-around. The glitz and glamour of the latest installment failed to enchant my imagination or enchant my interest. The whole thing struck me as rather hokey, and I was disappointed that I was able to peg the perpetrator before Stanley Welsh breathed his last correctly. The romance between Charlotte and James has grown stale in my eyes and while I liked learning more about Charlotte’s background, I can’t say the details alone made up for the lackluster mystery.

I seem to be the exception as most readers found the narrative charming, but when push comes to shove, I consider Murder on Location a light read, and that’s just not where I am as a reader.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 26, 2017

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Friday, July 27, 2018

#BookReview: News From Berlin by Otto de Kat

Genre
War Era Historical

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
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Social Media
Official Website

DESCRIPTION: 
In War time Europe Dutch diplomat Oscar Verschuur has been posted to neutral Switzerland. His family is spread across Europe. His wife Kate works as a nurse in London and their daughter Emma is living in Berlin with her husband Carl, a "good" German who works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Briefly reunited with her father in a restaurant in Geneva, Emma drops a bombshell. A date and a codename, and the fate of nations is placed in Verschuur's hands: June 22, Barbarossa.

What should he do? Warn the world, or put his daughter's safety first? The Gestapo are watching them both. And with Stalin lulled by his alliance with Hitler, will anyone even listen?

Otto de Kat is fast gaining a reputation as one of Europe's sharpest and most lucid writers. News from Berlin, a book for all readers, a true page-turner driven by the pulse of a ticking clock, confirms him as a storyteller of subtly extravagant gifts.

In War time Europe Dutch diplomat Oscar Verschuur has been posted to neutral Switzerland. His family is spread across Europe. His wife Kate works as a nurse in London and their daughter Emma is living in Berlin with her husband Carl, a "good" German who works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Briefly reunited with her father in a restaurant in Geneva, Emma drops a bombshell. A date and a codename, and the fate of nations is placed in Verschuur's hands: June 22, Barbarossa.

What should he do? Warn the world, or put his daughter's safety first? The Gestapo are watching them both. And with Stalin lulled by his alliance with Hitler, will anyone even listen?

Otto de Kat is fast gaining a reputation as one of Europe's sharpest and most lucid writers. News from Berlin, a book for all readers, a true page-turner driven by the pulse of a ticking clock, confirms him as a storyteller of subtly extravagant gifts.

REVIEW: 
I have had an ARC of Otto de Kat’s News From Berlin on my kindle since July 2015. I was intrigued by the premise, but was not inspired to pick it up until I found myself looking to rebound from a disappointing run-in with Kelly Durham’s Berlin Calling. I wish I could say this is the first time I’d sat an ARC so long, but it would be a blatant lie and as to rebounding, well, let’s just be happy we are talking books rather than relationships.

I think it safe to assume that if you are still with me, you want to know how I felt about the book. To get right to the point, News From Berlin has a lot in common with The Wherewithal. There is a loose parallel in terms of time period, but the similarities I refer to have more to do with the open-ended thoughts the narratives inspire. The conclusions feel right, but both books haunt the imagination with lingering questions.

Working knowledge of Operation Barbarossa is not required to follow the historical events of the narrative, but a basic familiarity with the invasion affords greater insight into the significance of the information that falls into Verschuur’s possession. I didn’t feel the cast of particular note, but it should be mentioned that News From Berlin wasn’t written as and doesn’t pretend to be character-driven fiction. The author is deeply invested in the political and emotional themes of the story, and that is where his work truly shines.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 4, 2017

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

#BookReview: Glow by Megan E. Bryant

Genre
Young Adult Historical

Buy Links
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Social Media
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DESCRIPTION: 
When thrift-store aficionado Julie discovers a series of antique paintings with hidden glowing images that are only visible in the dark, she wants to learn more about the artist. In her search, she uncovers a century-old romance and the haunting true story of the Radium Girls, young women who used radioactive paint to make the world's first glow-in-the-dark products—and ultimately became radioactive themselves. As Julie's obsession with the paintings mounts, truths about the Radium Girls—and her own complicated relationships—are revealed. But will she uncover the truth about the luminous paintings before putting herself and everyone she loves at risk?


REVIEW: 
For those who don’t quite understand the jacket design, Megan E. Bryant’s Glow is a young adult fiction that blends a modern storyline with the tragic history of the radium dial painters employed at the United States Radium factory in Orange, New Jersey. Fair warning folks, there be spoilers ahead.

Three of Bryant’s fictional characters – Liza, Lydia, and Charlotte Grayson – work at the factory, and while I loved the level of detail Bryant worked into their experiences, I couldn’t help feeling the historical elements of the novel played second fiddle to the modern mystery. The author did her homework with regard to working conditions and the effects of radiation sickness, but I found the novel as a whole poorly balanced and wished Bryant had spent more time with the Grayson sisters and less on Julie’s needlessly dramatic personal life.

Don’t get me wrong. I felt the link Bryant created between Julie and Grayson girls grotesquely imaginative, but the supplemental details of Julie’s life felt unnecessary. Luke, for example, is a conveniently single chemistry student who falls for Julie the moment they meet. The romance is clich├ęd at best, but his role in the mystery at the heart of the book is obvious from the moment he’s introduced. Rounding out the trio is Lauren, Julie’s best friend and poorly contrived foil. Bryant seems to have created the character to emphasize Julie’s misfortune, but I found the effort flat. The only character that annoyed me more was Julie’s mother, but I admit my frustration on that point relates to the ambiguous nature of her role in the story. I can’t speak for everyone, but it is my opinion that her subplot could have been omitted entirely without detriment to the narrative.

Lingering questions regarding the plausibility of an art enthusiast’s ignorance of the history of glow-in-the-dark paint also bother me, especially when the character in question harbors a distinctly defined penchant for chemistry. Pardon the observation, but I couldn’t put stock in the premise Bryant presented and found myself irritated with Julie as the story progressed. I suppose it is possible that she’d lack a base knowledge when the story opened, but the fact that she conducts enough research to create a formula from strontium nitrate and europium undermines her integrity as a basic internet search for luminescent paint reveals the effect itself is created through fluorescence, phosphorescence, or radioluminescence. Call me crazy, but that last point should have caught her attentioncaught her attention.

I’m an unapologetically picky reader, but let’s consider this reality against the context of the story. At this point, Julie has already broken into the factory in Orange, perused what remains of the workstations, and been unnerved by a sign proclaiming the site is contaminated by hazardous materials. I might be going out on a limb here, but shouldn’t someone smart enough to dissect the chemical compounds of luminescent paint recognize the obvious link? Not in Bryant’s universe, but let’s be even more real. The factory was torn down by the EPA in 1998, long before the development of the GPS system that led Julie to 482 Dover Street in the first place, a fact which makes Chapter 11 and a key discovery to have unfolded as written.

Long story short, I’d recommend Glow on subject matter, but would offer a word of caution to in light of the implausible drama and adolescent themes.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: May 5, 2017

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