Saturday, 16 May 2009

A Review: The Blue Handbag

I finished reading The Blue Handbag by Fiona Robyn today. Actually, I only started reading it yesterday, so I’ve devoured it pretty quickly.

I like her main character Leonard, he is very endearing. I felt as though I grew to know him well, cared about what happened to him. He is a gardener for the National Trust, and being one who loves National Trust gardens, I read about his work with interest. I like to imagine that all National Trust gardeners love plants and flowers in the way Leonard does, with intimate knowledge, imbuing them with character and humanity.

The story is a real intrigue. From the moment Leonard finds the blue handbag in the first chapter, I had such a drive to know more. The bag belonged to his wife, who died three years ago. It contains a train ticket, and unravels a whole set of mysteries and secrets about his wife that he discovers through the length of the book. I was hooked and couldn’t imagine how the story would develop.

I like the secondary characters very much as well. Rose, his wife, who we only see through the eyes of other characters, and who my feelings changed and shifted towards throughout the book. His daughter, Raine, who came across as very uptight and slightly annoying at first, but I grew to feel deep empathy with her when she finally opened up. Charlie, his drinking friend, who made me laugh. Pickle, his dog, made me laugh too.

It is less usual these days for a novel to be about an older person. I use this word cautiously, and what I mean is, someone who is old enough to have grandchildren, to be a widow after a forty year marriage, and to be approaching retirement. Most novels I read tend to be about twenty, thirty of forty somethings. It was a pleasure to read about someone a little

He has a wonderful character, I like the ‘buggers’ and ‘loves’ scattered through the narrative, the small inflections in his personality that give him depth and made me warm to him so.

The Blue Handbag is such a lovely read. I really recommend it.


Michelle said...

That was super quick, Annie! I also couldn't put it down once I'd started it. You're spot on using the term "endearing" to describe Leonard, I think ... he's exactly that - and gentle and human.

Looking forward to reading Fiona's interview with you on 100 Readers.

Megan said...

Thank you Annie - Fiona's wonderful
m xx