Saturday, August 13, 2011

Truths by Rebecca S. Buck

Publisher:             Bold Strokes Books

Truths is about two women who are separated by two hundred years, but their stories occur in the same part of Nottingham, England.  In 1808 Elizabeth Cooper is unjustly convicted of a crime and sentenced to death.  Before that happens she's raped and becomes pregnant, lengthening her life by nine months.  Jen is living in 2008 and works as a historic interpreter in the prison where Elizabeth was held.  Both women are struggling with the truths in their lives, Elizabeth that she is living on borrowed time and has to provide for a child's future and Jen learning to accept that she is a lesbian.  Their stories are told in alternating passages as each tries to find an answer to her situation.

This book presents a number of issues.  The first is why these two stories were put together.  Except for being located in the same place, they have nothing in common and there isn't an apparent connection between the women.  Either story, with some additions, would have stood alone as a book, but put together and alternated, they become distractions from each other.  The reader will spend a lot of the book waiting for the plots to converge and they don't.

Another consideration is that it's difficult for the reader to get invested in the stories.  The telling is rather tedious and by alternating them there is no even flow to the developments.  Unfortunately, the characters don't make up for this by being compelling.  The women aren't unappealing, but they also aren't engaging.  There's nothing about them that reaches out to catch the reader's interest.  Jen's story is told in first person and Elizabeth's in third, but there doesn't seem to be any particular reason for doing that. There is a brief flurry of excitement at the end of Jen's story, but even that was obviously done.  Elizabeth's story ends with a rather dull resolution.

If there is a positive to the book, it's in the detail that Buck sometimes goes into with the settings and the customs of the 1800s.  The scenes in the prison feel very real.

The stories told in Truths are OK.  There are more interesting stories out there though.

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