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Viewing a TV interview with author Stella Rimmington, I was impressed by her personal authority, and the fact that she had mixed parenthood (single parenthood at that) and top leadership in British espionage. So, I reasoned, her fictionalised accounts of life in MI5 had to be laced with authentic details and situations.
But this was not to be the case. It was a hard-work listen, but I persisted believing that, given the author's history, there had to be something engaging ahead. But why was it hard work: maybe it was the reader, I thought -- earnest, sententious and heavy going interpretations of some voices and other voices trivialised. Maybe it was the heroine, Liz Carlyle: impeccably moral, looking for love, brave, conscious of establishing herself as a woman in a previously male world. I thought that it was all fair enough that she shakes, she flutters, needs a hand from her strong males from time to time, is emotional. But Rimmington wasn't establishing her as successfully mixing these traits with professional leadership. In fact, quite the reverse: the actions of this poor woman are used as a pivot for the plot -- Rimmington has her switching off her mobile phone for a day, and deleting unheard phone messages, while she is away from her post. What does that say about what I assume to be the author's goal of demonstrating that women can be effective leaders. Yes, the plot lines continue to be laboured: in addition to the phone aberrations, we also have a trained and experienced operator make reckless decisions as a result of disappointment in love.
But on we go. By now the listener can almost predict what the characters are going to say and how the plot is going to resolve. The baddies are very bad, the goodies are very....well, very dull. The underlying message is very real ('the Irish troubles' are not fully over -- Britain, you are still in danger). And we must suppose that some of the operational details are authentic.
We now move to islands, and cellars, and rescues -- and there's the reader, still sounding as if she is reading a children's story book -- dialogue becomes more clich??d, the plot more inevitable and transparent.
And now it is all over. And Rimmington has disappointed. Was it lack of confidence as a writer? Were there qualities missed entirely due to the way it was read? Did some sort of official secrets act stop her from creating a strong, authentic saga?
I listened to the last Book Dead line which I really enjoyed, It had good character development, a good sense of suspense and a feeling that the author really knows what she?s talking about and I think she did. She's on shakier ground with this book however, its not as well researched and the characters did things which just didn't make sense or were just so blindingly obvious, I felt a little insulted as a listener. I don't think I'll be buying any more Stella Rimington?s books.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Not a bad story per se and whilst the narrator was OK during the general free flow of the story her efforts at characterisation were so poor as to ruin the book for me. Very poor efforts at dialect, accent, intonation and tempo. I didn’t enjoy the book and that was entirely down to the narration.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful