Search this blog

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Review of Anne by Robert Fanshawe

My friend and fellow writer Robert J. Fanshawe kindly wrote this brilliant review of my latest novel. Check out his book The Cellist's Friend available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Over to Rob...

I read Zarina Macha’s latest novel Anne during the summer with my children on holiday and other writing commitments beckoning, unlike her two previous novellas which I read while totally away from civilization when I had nothing to interrupt me. About mid-way through Anne I realized that this was a good thing as it is a novel to savour rather than one to blast through breathlessly, which the plots of the other two encourage.

The themes addressed in Anne are primarily the vagaries of young adulthood in the modern world and everything that encompasses; as well as family, with equal helpings of domestic abuse and love. When I read the plot and blurb I realized that this would be a book that would touch almost all young people and I wasn’t disappointed in that.

The initial chapters deal with Anne’s traumatic life under a father who terrorizes her mother. The dramatic end to that leaves the reader and Anne herself in unfinished suspense as she is packed off to relatives and school away from home, by a father who is descending into addiction and decline.

Most of the middle of the novel deals with a period of schooling, much of which is spent at boarding school away from her aunt and uncle who are in loco parentis. Here she gradually becomes familiar with how teenagers live their lives and communicate with one another. ‘I didn’t really know how people were supposed to act in front of one another,’ she muses to herself during one early scene where her cousin kisses a girl in front of her aunt.

This gradual revealing of the lives and activities of Anne’s fellow students is charged with realistic drama. However, Anne has to endure it through the smouldering trauma of her family background and a lack of any knowledge of how that might continue or end. The effect of these events have left her with a speech impediment and panic attacks, both of which are well written. She is also going through a teenage sexual coming-of-age unlike most of her friends and family. What holds Anne together is her love of her mother and academic capability at school.

This is a first person novel from Anne’s point of view and I did sometimes feel that I would have liked to get more into her head which that format could have allowed. I had the feeling that I had a better knowledge of her friend Simone’s character drawn from a third person perspective.

However the friendships, relationships, good and bad, which the teenagers engage in were all very well set out, including a racial interplay which was well handled. With the gradual build up I had the feeling that we were heading towards a cliff edge.

Again I was not disappointed one bit. The final third reveals a very touching and beautifully written sexual ‘coming out’ and a dramatic final development akin to some of the scenes of Macha’s two previous novellas.

I felt the epilogue, personal writer’s notes and tributes in which I was flattered to have a mention, contributed to the whole work and brought us closer to the writer; a writer for whom this is another stepping stone to much more work, to which I greatly look forward. 

Follow Rob on Twitter @rjfanny

No comments:

Post a comment

I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
I've also published three YA fiction books and two poetry volumes. To check em out, copy and paste this link into your browser: