I was pleasantly surprised at how well Trobough crafted the beginning of her book. She was almost Dickensian in the characterization of her characters. Everything described is so visual...the little boy left behind, scared by the sudden appearance of the dark figure with the egret feather peering at him through the bushes...the soothing quality of the dark figure’s voice...the image of Fiona and Glory, two old ladies who are essentially the female version of the Odd Couple, finding little Victor...it’s wonderful! The writing is so vivid and real. It is well done.
However, the momentum Trobough developed during the first third of her novel somehow manages to dissipate as the reader progresses through the latter parts of the book. I think the main reason why the first section of the book worked so well, is its focus—the story centered around the boy and those two elderly ladies who adopt him. Together, they made an amusing trio. Though as the story progresses, Trobough continuously adds to her supporting cast of characters, which in turn, helps the story lose its focus. Rather than the prior focus on character, the story becomes heavily focused on plot, told from different points of view. Because of this, the characters became flat and listless, almost shadows of their former selves, as the plot meandered to its end. Too much happened, causing the story to feel cluttered. I found this change disturbing.
As well, I think all of the shifts in time and the addition of the various storylines of these new characters contributed to a major story error—an error I truly hope the editors were able to catch before the final printing. The story begins in 1924, when little Victor is around 18 months to two years old. Yet around the time of Pearl Harbor (Dec. 1941), Fiona describes Victor as being only sixteen and too young to enter WWII. Between that period of time is seventeen years, and given Victor’s age in 1924, it would make him eighteen, almost nineteen years old—certainly old enough to enlist without the need to fake his age. I sincerely hope the 1924 date in my copy was a misprint.
While I did enjoy some aspects of this novel, considering the work in its entirety, I don’t feel that it met my expectations. I was rather disappointed by it. That said, I do think if the novel was broken up into shorter pieces, i.e. short stories about small town life collected into one volume, Trobough would have had a much better work. The short story format would have given her more room to develop her characters as well as her plot. In the short story format, there would be a lesser chance for her to lose momentum in her storytelling.