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Monday 26 September 2011

Adelaide's War by Vivien Kees

Short stories/novellas are difficult to get right, I think; their length means an author has to get the content well-balanced and there is only a short space of time to get the plot/character development to a satisfactory level.

Set in the late 1800s, Adelaide's War is a simple short story about a widow, Adelaide, whose husband died in the North and South war.  The circumstances of his death and his allegiance are brought into question after his demise, and to avoid the unpleasant lash back from townfolk, Adelaide retreats into isolation, living alone and frugally.  Her solitude is broken one cold, harsh, snow-stormy night, when she finds a man, Josiah, frozen and half-conscious at her front door.  She nurses him to good health.  He too has lost loved ones, it transpires;  they both feel, by this common link, that there is a bond between them, but she is resistant to anything resembling an advance by Josiah.  A subsequent near-death experience for Adelaide ultimately helps her decide what course her life should take.

And so back to my comment on short stories; in this particular instance, whilst Adelaide is an admirable, independent character (I did quite like her) and Josiah an honourable man, the story was lacklustre and the speed with which events unfold stretched my credibility too far – especially when no more than a kiss passes between the couple.  The plot outline is reasonable enough, and if the book had been longer, both the plot and the characters (who were worth getting to know more) could have been developed more fully.  I felt the book lacked substance, although I did warm to Vivian's easy-going style.

It only took me a short car journey to read this book, but I felt quite flat at the end of this novella.

This review was originally written for The TBR Pile

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