After the War is Over: Altogether too many descriptions of hats

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Here are a few reasons I didn’t enjoy Jennifer Robson’s *After the War is Over*:

1. It was altogether ridiculously predictable in plot: to the point that I anticipated the union of our lower-class protagonist with her Lord for so many chapters I skimmed through yet another obstacle-in-the-path-of-true-love, stopping only to admire the frequent use of ‘visage’ and ‘shirtwaist’ (and other lovely period diction).

2. On the subject of unnecessary attention to historical particulars: It included many (many) pointless detours in plot with the sole purpose of showing off historical detail. Details that were only there (I can only assume) because the author holds a PhD in History and seems quite taken with historical specificity for post-Great War era fashion, dances and food. Detours like visits to dress shops, or bedroom dance lessons. Page long descriptions of historical bathing suits. Really. Detours with no discernable relation to character or theme development. Detours entirely devoted to hats.

3. The protagonist is a repressed, self-righteous free spirit just waiting for the right (rich, handsome, rich, cultured, sensitive, rich) man to liberate her from her self-imposed dourness and expose the true glow of her unique petals of utter stunning beauty flower.

Here is 1 1/2 reasons I did:

1. Because Downtown Abbey got it right: there’s something fascinating about the historical moment of 1919 in which class and gender hierarchies (nevermind accepted and expected rules of decorum) get shaken.

1.5 Because it includes a beautiful scene of our protagonist casting her vote in the first election that allowed women (of certain classes) to vote. And because this reader cannot resist swelling feeling of gratitude and respect for those women (and men) who fought – and fight – so hard for franchise.  That said, this scene takes up the first three pages of the book. So you could read those and then… stop.

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Filed under Bestseller, Book I'll Forget I Read, British literature, Canadian Literature, Historical Fiction

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