Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

The first indication that her father was unwell had come in June.

There is an indication of conflict in this sentence and there is an indication of characters though the slipping in of the month waters this line down. If something else had been added, like they learned about the father when, say something else was happening, the sentence would have been more complex in its conflict. That it's happening in June does not make me care more, and every word of an opening line needs to make me care. That is the only way to get me reading more.

First thing said:


This comes early on page one, as a scene begins to unfold - the moment the father is ill and returning from a trip. The balance between narrative, dialogue, description and back story is well executed and well proportioned, which means that the opening pace of the novel is quick enough to pull the reader in as it moves towards the hook which is buried somewhere later. It does start to slow down by the time we get to chapter 2, primarily with back story. Chapter 2 begins thus:

When Frances's parents first married, her father had lived as close to respectability as he was able.

The focus of this opening is on establishing the mood and back story. This is fine, but it will not hook as effectively as, say, an opening showcasing a giant tomato staggering down the street, gobbling up first borns.

I do like the title and I think it adds to increasing the interest in picking this up, though perhaps not with sticking with it.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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