Book review: The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements
Supplied through the Bookbridgr.com scheme.
Although book reviews have been featuring less on my blog thanks to my studying and the theatre habit I do still read a lot but the one thing I do miss from my days in the book trade are the advance copies. The joy of discovering a book before publication and then teasing people by dropping hints and then putting something special into their hands was a magical feeling and went a long way to make the monotony and stress of retail more fun.
I already subscribe to the Netgalley scheme and get to pick and chose electronic proofs from publishers there but the chance to join a homegrown scheme - Bookbridgr.com - too good to miss and luckily I was approved as a reader.
As yet there isn't too much to pick from on the site, although this does change weekly, but as until the end of April I am still studying a few choice books are better than overwhelming piles. My first choice was the historical fiction The Crimson Ribbon by experienced writer (but debut novelist) Katherine Clements.
It sounded very promising with locations of the book being Ely, the area around St. Paul's Cathedral and Abingdon in Oxfordshire - all places I know reasonably well. The setting was the end of the English Civil War, just before the decision to execute Charles I was taken. This is a historical period I'm not so familiar with and I hoped to learn more through the novel.
It started brutally, and really wasn't the right thing to sit in a pub garden reading just before lunch, but after a few days I returned to the book and read it over a couple of days - the short chapters moved the story along well and did mean that I fell prey to the 'one more chapter before bed' problem!
However the story failed to grip me hugely, plot twists and turns were signaled too clearly and the characters never came to life. Far too many appeared and disappeared before I got to know them and the plot contrivances just became too much by the end.
I wanted to like the book, I wanted to have my curiosity sparked but ultimately I felt a bit flat at the end and had no interest in looking up any of the 'facts' to learn more. I do wonder if I'd read this as a beach/holiday read I'd be more generous but I didn't escape into it at all. Clements is a published short story writer and I think I will look these out as there was something in the book - perhaps it was just over stretched for a novel?
The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements was published by Headline on 27th March 2014 - ISBN 9781472204196