Title: In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II
Author: Rhys Bowen
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Goodreads Synopsis: World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.
As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?
Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.
I read this book as part of the Kindle First program.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I loved the cover, I thought the story line sounded intriguing, but somewhere between that and actually reading the book I lost interest very quickly.
The writing wasn’t terrible, but it was very “paint by numbers.” I thought the story was very predictable, the characters were one-dimensional, and the action scenes fell flat. It was almost like Bowen wasn’t sure how to portray her thoughts on paper, so she just summarized what she wanted to happen and moved on. Each scene left me wanting more, or thinking there would be more to it. I only kept reading because I wanted answers to the dead parachutist mystery, but by the time we answered that question I was hanging on by a thread.
To make matters worse, stereotypes ran rampant, especially in the daughters. Of the five girls, we have the mothering one, the baby, the smart one, the brave one, and the annoying one. All characters you have seen before and they all have pet nicknames. Those of which, would have been cute if they hadn’t been so inconsistently used.
Dido is the most annoying character of the book, possibly of any book I’ve ever read in my lifetime. All she does is bitch and moan about how she wasn’t able to come out and be presented by the court because of the stupid war. “Wahhh… I want to go to parties, meet men, and have sex!” Girl, chill. Dido isn’t alone in this mindset because many of the aristocratic characters we revolve around for much of the book don’t seem to realize there is a war on either. They look at it as more of an inconvenience. When Dido does the unforgivable toward the end of the book, I wasn’t surprised or amused in the slightest. It was inevitable, an accident looking for a place to happen, if you will. Or if you won’t.
Also, every character interaction is laden with overly British phrases like “jolly,” “blimey,” “crikey,” and “bloody.”
I know Bowen is from the UK and she probably would know what Brits are like better than I would, but it didn’t feel genuine or authentic to me. It was more like she wrote this book for non-Brits and felt like she needed to pound the message into our heads that THIS. BOOK. IS. BRITISH. I get it. Message received.
And for the cheese factor, here is a sample exchange between the baby sister, Phoebe, and the villain.
“Don’t you hurt Alfie, you horrid man,” Phoebe screamed.
“What the hell. Go on, you little brats. Go. No one can stop me now, anyway.”
Who else read this in their best cartoon villain voice?
Side note: Why are we using periods if we’re screaming? Although, punctuation is the least of my worries…
As far as historical fiction goes, I’ve read better. This was well researched, but poorly executed. I don’t know who I would recommend this to, it has a younger reader feel to it, but then talks about sex throughout the whole book. Not that there is anything graphic, but it’s present.
Because I feel like I need to say something positive:
- This book was very well researched.
- I was surprised at the end, Bowen did a good job of leading us away from the ultimate villain.
- This book got a lot of 5 star reviews on Amazon, so just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t!