Sunday, October 15, 2017

Book Review: 'Impact: Part 1' by Rosalind Minett

British author Rosalind Minett began her career in the arts as a dancer - in RADA (for those outside the UK, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) - but switched directions when she studied psychology at Birmingham, Sussex and Exeter universities and became a Psychologist. This combination of experience offers her the ability to crawl inside the psyches of her characters while creating a proscenium arch setting in intricate details for her chosen subject - whether writing comedy, historically influenced novels or crime tales - before enjoying a career as a chartered psychologist. She is successfully able to wear the twin masks of comedy/tragedy and still maintain a rather phenomenal sense of finding the humor in the worst of situations and the compensatory dark side of the best of incidents. She is a hell of a fine writer!

While the bookshelves (and Kindle tablets) are filled with stories of WW II and the manner in which England survived that period of history, very few have explored the subject of the interplay of off island youngsters and people as they interacted in England during that horror - especially the little known (outside of England) fact of the evacuation of children and women to small villages outside of London during the blitz for safe keeping during the assault. Rosalind accomplishes just that in Book 1 INTRUSION of her trilogy she calls A Relative Invasion, pairing cousins and the stress and eventual growth such situations permitted, and then in Book 2 INFILTRATION she wisely continues this compelling coming of age story. Book 3 IMPACT brings the emotional ‘wars’ full circle. But a recapitulation of the broad series makes a full impact.

In 1937 we met cousins Billy and Kenneth as young Billy's predictable life was ripped open as much by the introduction of his frail but manipulative cousin, Kenneth, as by the threat of war. Only the image of the secretly seen Cossack sabre boosted Billy's spirits and imaginary power. Then autumn 1940. Relentless London bombing forces Billy's family into evacuation. Kenneth goes with his mother, and nearby to Billy's while Billy must settle with a new foster family. Just as his life seems happier, a family catastrophe causes a new threat from Kenneth, one that will affect both their futures. July 1945. War in Europe is over, but Japan is still holding out. 12 year old Bill Wilson is torn away from the emotional supports he found in his evacuation billet and must face the dirt and destruction of London. The thrill of having Uncle Ted back safe from war is dashed by his sad and strange behaviour. He drives Bill home to Wandsworth with Mother and little sister, Jill. Manipulative cousin Kenneth is about to move in with Aunty Doreen. He's furious about her romance with an American. He blames Bill for introducing them, and begins the ultimate stage of his invasion. Bill struggles to protect the what he values. He cannot keep Ted’s disaster, his own beliefs, his friendships or even his secret icon from Kenneth’s reach. Tensions rise to a climax causing a dreadful event. The fall-out will irrevocably change the lives of both boys and all around them. Can Bill survive and find a way to a worthwhile future for everyone?

In addition to describing WW II as it affected England, Rosalind explores the mental, moral, and progression towards adulthood - timeless topics brought keenly into focus in wartime and the accelerated need to accept personal responsibility for one's actions. The writing is crisp and involving and the message she presents to the reader is one of global concern - especially in these times. A brilliant trilogy! Grady Harp, December 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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