19 February 2014
SOME DAY I’LL FIND YOU by Richard Madeley
Not so long ago I sent BIRDS OF THE NILE off to the Richard and Judy Book Club in the hopes of it being included in their summer offering. Last week I received their response. Needless to say, I got rejected, not because my book wasn’t worthy but rather because it had already been published and therefore wasn’t eligible. This was explained to me in a very nice letter which I almost felt had been written to me personally. So before you start saying ‘Sour Grapes’, don’t think I’m being critical of Mr Madeley’s book purely because he turned me down – I’d already decided to read it well beforehand and the comments I’m about to make are sincerely held. Nevertheless …
Whenever I’ve been to the cinema I’m generally aware of when I’ve seen a good film. It sticks in my mind and I’m still thinking about it the following morning. If I’m not, it doesn’t mean it was a bad film – it just means it wasn’t memorable. SOME DAY I’LL FIND YOU is rather like that and if it wasn’t for the fact that I need to write this review, I’d normally have forgotten all about it by now. It doesn’t mean it was a bad book – it just means it wasn’t … memorable.
SOME DAY I’LL FIND YOU is what I would call a ‘beach read’. If you want something for the purpose of light entertainment while you’re lying next to the pool or swinging in a hammock slung between two coconut trees, then this will probably do the trick. That’s not to say that some of you won’t be able to put it down – you may well be engaged by how Diana’s ‘problem’ is going to be solved. But once you’ve found out, I suspect you’re going to move on fairly quickly.
So it’s not a taxing read – and it’s made all the more so by the extent of the back cover blurb. If you don’t like surprises, look at it. If you do, I’d suggest you stick to the front and don’t turn it over. I was amazed by how much of the story was given away without me actually having to read it and that was probably the most memorable part of the whole experience. I don’t want to give too much away myself so I’ll limit my comments to telling you that the three paragraphs on the back take us to within sixty pages or so of the ending. The first paragraph alone deals with pages one to one hundred and fifty. I’ll confine myself to the first few lines.
“James Blackwell is handsome, sexy and with an element of mystery about him. He’s a fighter pilot – every girl’s dream. At least that is what Diana Arnold thinks when her brother John first introduces them.”
Combine that with the title and you’ve enough to be getting on with – you’ll get the gist.
My second problem with the book revolved around the plot. I like my stories to be credible – I tend to stay away from vampires and werewolves for example. Goodness me, even HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES had a reason behind it. Not that we’re dealing with the supernatural here though, merely a set of unlikely coincidences and in my view, unlikely character reactions. This always makes it hard to engage and so detracts from the enjoyment. But, if you’re lying next to the pool etc. you might not be that bothered …
As to the writing, Mr Madeley has mercifully avoided the temptation to use ‘purple prose’ and instead of trying to be elaborate has written in simple language. His book is all the better for it and for the most part reads very nicely. He seems more concerned with action rather than internal thought however and as a result his characters lack a certain degree of depth. The first indication of any real insight arrives on page ninety-one.
“That first kiss, an astonished Diana realized later, was the point at which, for the first time in her life, all her disparate parts dimly recognized each other. Her yearnings for a sense of purpose, for love, for a child, for passion, were, for a few dizzying moments, almost unified.”
A perceptive sentiment, well expressed – but it’s a long time in coming. You might say that this isn’t relevant as character is expressed through action and we get plenty of that. All very well when action and reaction are credible – but sometimes in my view, they’re not. And so we go back to plot points, a lack of engagement and hence the moral of the memorable film.
This all sounds terribly harsh but as I say, it doesn’t mean this is a bad book and I’m not saying don’t read it. If you’re going somewhere warm, take it on holiday and relax. It’s light entertainment, it has a climactic ending and it’s reasonably well written. Just heed my advice and don’t look at the back cover ...