Review published on May 5, 2017.
Frank White’s novel, set in a Lincolnshire village in 1940, evokes a nostalgic, unchanging English countryside at a time when England was at war. Alongside this written evocation are tiny pen and ink illustrations that rather reminded me of books I had as a child – Swallows and Amazons comes to mind.
The novel features a complex array of characters, dwelling on each person in the village and their small part in the war effort. Behind closed doors in this peaceful country village, things are not what they seem. At times frustrating due to its lack of depth, the stories cover deeply emotional and traumatic themes with a very British stiff upper lip. The remarkable thing about this novel though, is what is not said, it relies deeply on the reader’s ability to imagine what is going on behind the narration; the emotions, conversations and battles that are hidden from our view. For me, I think this novel has the potential to be developed into a really good TV series.
Rachel Hirstwood 3/4
There Was a Time by Frank White
Hodder & Stoughton 9781473650411 hbk Jun 2017