The Long Shadow Kindle Edition
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|Length: 480 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Each of the characters in this novel, that covers two generations, is a real person. The people and their relationships with each other are extremely complex. And I thought Ms. Proctor's descriptions of scenes were absolutely inspired. The landscapes, weather, even the minutia and feel of equipment in the camp scenes made army life in 1916 come alive. Her descriptions of the old city of Salonika are not just good but exquisite.
The final chapters of this book, in particular, will not allow you to stop reading. I would definitely recommend The Long Shadow to anyone who loves a good story.
The Greek settings where extremely well done. As it happens I lived in Greece around the time of the post WW2 setting and everything written is pretty much how it was and brought back some fond memories of my own experiences back then.
I recommend this book to everyone who appreciates a well-rounded, well researched book with superb character development and an absolutely splendid story.
I will not go into a summary of the story itself since folks can get that from the cover.
You will not be able to put it down though and you'll feel so close to the character's you'll almost hate to see them leave when the book ends.
A sequel would be perfect for this story and these people. That said, it has a superbly well done ending by itself.
The setting of the story - in the first half of the book Greece during WW1 - was totally unknown territory to me so I learned a great deal about the British involvement in this part of the world at that time, which is always a pleasure: that the author is an expert on a specific period and wraps the story and the characters around her knowledge.
The characters are all well-thought out and realistic and all "likeable" in their own way. The love story is described with much care and authenticity.
The two parts of the book - from Dorothy's perspective and the second part from her son Andrew's perspective - are different in tone and give depth to their different outlooks on the situation.
I agree with E.Jasper that the book in parts is too detailed and that that obstructs the pace somewhat.
But that didn't stop me from delighting in Ms Proctor's story-telling capacity and thoroughly enjoying The Long Shadow, a book no doubt cherished by historians and relatives of British staff serving in Greece during WW1.
Andrew, the son of Dorothy and a mysterious "Greek officer and spy," makes a decision that will alter his life, and those closest to him. As a child, he glimpses a photo of a man he assumes is his father. His mother keeps the memento in a box in her childhood bedroom. While Andrew is visiting his grandmother over Christmas holiday, he decides to examine the contents more closely in an attempt to learn more about the man. He not only finds the photo, but his mother's diary as well. Knowing it is wrong, Andrew takes the diary to his room and reads it anyway.
The diary entries comprise the middle section of the novel and explains, in vivid detail, his mother's life in England just before the beginning of World War I and as a nurse stationed near the Greek village of Salonika. The narrative provides insight into life in a WWI medical camp under harsh conditions, and the horrors of war for soldiers as well as for the civilians living in the places they occupy.
The use of diary entries to advance a story is not a new one, and I wondered at the narrative-like quality of Dorothy's musings until I came across an explanation by the author. Here is what Proctor tells Lucy Walton during in an interview in the a blog post in Female First:
4. How difficult was it to write in the format of a diary entry?
Not at all difficult. It came naturally, plus I had all those real diaries to base my ideas on. I tried not to let the language appear too stilted but needed to give the feel of the slightly formal way people expressed themselves in the early 1900's. Naturally, no one would write a diary that was quite as detailed as Dorothy's! It's simply a plot device to tell the story in the first person and give the atmosphere of the Greek hospital camp, plus to tell Dorothy's love story. I felt it was best to write the diary from the start to finish of her account rather than jump back and forth as many books tend to do. Basically I couldn't bear to tear myself away from Dorothy's story!
5. A lot of books are using diary entries as a means of telling a story now, so was this something you set out to use in the early stages of writing this book?
Yes, it was a necessary part of the story because Andrew discovers this diary and it opens his eyes to why his past is such a mystery and never spoken of by his mother or relations.
To be honest, I couldn't think of another way to relay Dorothy's story, and Proctor used this time-honored device effectively.
The last section of the book deals with the ramification of Andrew's reading the diary. As any young man would do, he sets off, with all the impetuousness and intensity of youth, to find out everything about the father he never knew. Along the way, he experiences life as he never would have back home and meets people who broaden his perspective of the world. Andrew makes mistakes but, more importantly, he learns how to forgive and be forgiven.
The Long Shadow is rich in detail, history, and insight into human nature. Above all, it is a love story--love of family, country, fellow man, and romantic love. I enjoyed it immensely.