Since I’m currently reading Saving Francesca, I’m going to make the leap and say that one of Marchetta’s favorite authors is Jane Austen. It seems that one of Marchetta’s favorite themes is lax parenting. Jellicoe Road
is certainly chock-full of examples.
But my main scruple with this novel is the fact that it’s labeled a mystery. Frankly with all of those parallels, I just didn’t see need for the dragged out unveiling. By page 75, I wrote down my predictions—identities and relationships of all the characters in the book, which were solidly confirmed by page 178 of a 419 page novel. Like Looking for Alaska, Jellicoe Road
becomes one of those books where the answers are so tangible, yet the characters are too stubborn and blind to see it. I was rather disappointed by this, because it made her characters, especially Taylor seem naive. Had Marchetta not taken this easy route, it would have opened up so many other avenues to pursue more character development and emotional depth.
Basically, I wanted to learn more about Griggs! I love reading about men with tortured souls…their eyes conveying so much pain and longing—with a few tears here and there. Like the entire novel, we only learn about his past through backward flashbacks. At the beginning of the book, he’s a true Jason Morgan type from General Hospital
…a steely countenance with no give. Knowing what I know about him now, I wonder how that would color my reading of him at the beginning—if I ever chose to reread this at some future date.
As it’s written, the personality switch and melodrama surrounding Tate was a tad overdone in my opinion. I truly wished Marchetta pursued this issue more to give Tate’s actions more credence. But it’s Hannah’s story that’s the most unforgiving. I refuse to believe in that “I was forced to keep the secret” nonsense. It’s a cop out phrase. It’s too easy, as well as the indirect way she tells Taylor through the manuscript, leaving bits of it here and there, forcing Taylor—if she wants to—to put it all together. I think that’s truly creepy, especially when she’s experienced what Taylor’s done in the past to discover the secret, and when it’s paired with the reason why Hannah leaves. Why does she feel that Taylor has no right in the matter? I agree with Griggs when he later says to Hannah: “I think it will be a while before I forgive you for what you put her through over the past six weeks.”
So why the four star rating? There are quite a few good moments interspersed throughout the text. I also like the poetic quality to some of the prose…the repetition of certain phrases, like “on the Jellicoe Road.” It’s well done. I kind of wish the American publishers kept the original Australian title. And I love the fact that men cry in this book. It’s not that drunk, weepy kind of crying. There’s honest emotion here, with no fear of expressing what they feel, no matter their audience. It’s one of my weaknesses. ;)