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Shadows of the Past - Janet Tanner

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1 Review

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Janet Tanner / Edition: First world ed / Hardcover / 288 Pages / Book is published 2002-12-27 by Severn House Publishers Ltd

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      15.02.2011 17:52
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      Good love story

      ==Synopsis of the novel:==

      It is New South Wales in Australia in 1860. Will Page and his little sister are trying to come to terms with losing their parents. Although both being looked after by other families, Will is able to visit Jenny and he makes her a promise to the distraught little girl that one day he will buy some land and make a home for them on the land.

      11 years have passed and Jenny is now a beautiful 17-year-old girl and Will has fulfilled his promise to her. He is now the proud owner of a small farm Kanunga that he shares with his sister, his wife Cerys and their two young children Molly and Richie. Life is hard but they are just about able to make ends meet in this very harsh and demanding environment.

      Their lives are shattered when Will is shot and killed by an intruder. Cerys vows to carry on the work of her husband and keep the farm afloat with Jenny's help, while trying to bring the children up. Her sadness is not helped when Chas Wallace a successful and wealthy businessman comes calling for money owed to him. When Cery's horses startled two of his men making them drop an expensive and valuable piano. She cannot believe what a callous man he is, chasing her for this money when her husband is not even cold in his grave.

      ==My thoughts on this book:==

      I was at the Hospital over seven hours and I found this the ideal companion while I waited. It was entertaining, well written and something the filled the time really well for me. This was my third experience of this author's work so I had a fair idea before I started it what I was letting myself in for.

      While I say I enjoyed this period drama, it was because it was an absorbing story. I was also initially quite disappointed with it. That was because having only read three books by this author, they all share similar characteristics that for me took away a lot of the gloss from it. For example they have all been set in Australia in the 19th century, they all focus on how tough it was for women and most disappointing of all they all deal with young women who are basically on their own having lost either parents and husband or both. I would have really liked to see something different and a slightly different angle as I felt I knew exactly what was going to happen.

      What persuaded me to read this novel was simply the fact I had enjoyed the previous two novels I had read from this author. It could have been any book from her basically but I liked the sound of the summary on the inside cover and the title sounded intriguing.

      The summary was two good paragraphs long and made the story sound very interesting. I particularly liked the sentence above it telling the reader it was an enthralling saga of love, murder and revenge. This summed up the novel really well and I liked the different concept this encompassed.

      As soon as I started to read the story I was intrigued by the characters within it and I liked the concept of Will making this promise to Jenny. There was clearly more behind what had happened to them than was being shared with the reader and I liked the idea of secrets not being shared with the family. Although as above I was disappointed as above when Cerys had to try and keep the farm going when Will was killed. It would have been better for me is something else happened for example maybe Cerys died and Will needed to struggle on without her trying to juggle the children and the farm.

      Despite this, this story was always fascinating because of the other elements within it, the forces of the unknown. You were never sure of what would happen next to the main characters although I always felt I knew the ultimate direction the story would go in. I found the love story interesting but unlikely, it just seemed very odd to me that Chas would fall for Cerys bearing in mind he was an older man and a confirmed bachelor who if he wanted could have any women. I would have liked more interaction between the two and I was surprised despite his kindness towards her and her family and still left her at risk.

      I enjoyed the way the story developed and always while finding it in some ways predictable, still charming and enthralling. I think this was because you could always sense the feeling of both suspense and mystery about the story. There were one or two answers to the mysteries that were only answered towards the end that totally surprised and impressed me. I think the solutions to these were well hidden and the answers to them credible.

      The story was always well constructed and the pace of it was always steady. There was always something happening and something to think about within it. It was always a thoughtful and deep story, which dealt a lot with emotions and feelings involving mainly Cerys and also Jenny. I liked the way these feelings were often contrasting displaying different thoughts and insight into them.

      I found the conclusion exciting and annoying at the same time. I will not give away what happened but it was a well thought out ending and I think it contained anything. Although I would have liked a designated epilogue rather than just over a page advising the reader what happened a few months down the line.

      The stories main character was Cerys, I found her to be a very easy character to relate to. She was a strong lady who was honest, loyal and a real worker, I admired her strength and all her values seemed round her family. She did not have a selfish bone in her body, although occasionally she did frustrate me the way she acted without considering her actions, but then that seemed in keeping with her character. The story was mainly written from her point of view, although at times we did have other characters view in what was happening.

      What surprised me in this book was despite always being involved in the story I did not feel I understand the other characters as well as I should. This is because only at certain times did the author use people like Jenny and Chas's viewpoint. I would have liked far more of their feelings expressed, but if the author was to do that she might have given some of the answers to the mystery away. So while I liked these characters I did not feel especially close to them and that was a shame as they always appeared interesting and it is hard to tell a love story effectively from only one perspective. I feel the author really missed a trick here and despite trying to regain this ground later on in the story it never really convinced me.

      I did enjoy this novel and found it an easy and comfortable read, without ever giving me the challenge I really expected. I think this was because it was not as different as I would have liked from the authors other works. The books length was about what I would have expected and it seemed the right time to end the story when the author did. It was always well set out story with regular chapters displaying a new day or change of emphasis.

      What I find is good with this author is she has a proper designated web site, so you can find out a lot more about her and her novels (see below). Although I was surprised that when I researched this book I was unable to find it available in the paperback format. This makes it an expensive purchase unless you can find it second hand at a carboot or charity shop.

      ==Conclusion:==

      Yes I did enjoy this novel and I would recommend it. I think it was a well-told love story with some good twists and turns within it. It was always well written but I did feel the author should have included more from the male's perspective for the emotion and feeling to really work. Out of the three books by this author I have read I would say this is the weakest but I think that is because I was looking for something a bit different from this author and I didn't really get it.

      ==Other Information:==

      Hardcopy version
      Pages: 288
      Price: £17.09 (New from Amazon)
      Publisher: Severn House
      ISBN-10: 0727859269
      ISBN-13: 978-0727859266
      Year: 2003
      More about the author: www.janettanner.co.uk

      Thank you for reading my review.

      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.

      ©CPTDANIELS February 2011.

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