Review of The Wrong Direction
Author – Liz Treacher
Rating – 5 Stars *****
About the Author
*Liz Treacher is an author and photographer who lives in the Scottish Highlands, by the sea. Her website http://www.liztreacher.com shows off some of her photos of City Silhouettes, WW1 letters and the Coast. Her love of images influences her writing. Liz Treacher tends to think visually when she writes. Her interest in that period started when she stumbled upon a suitcase of letters sent to her grandmother by two soldiers during and after the First World War. She was fascinated by the way people expressed themselves at that time.
When Liz Treacher is not writing, she works as and adult literacy tutor. She uses storytelling and photography to encourage the students to write.
Autumn 1920 – When Bernard Cavalier, a flamboyant London artist, marries Evie Brunton, a beautiful Devon post lady, everyone expects a happy ending. But Evie misses cycling down country lanes, delivering the mail, and is finding it hard to adapt to her new life among Mayfair’s high society. Meanwhile Bernard, now a well-known artist, is struggling to give up her bachelor ways.
The Wrong Direction is as light and witty as the Wrong Envelope, with racy characters and a fast paced plot. Wild parties, flirtatious models, jealous friend – Bernard and Evie must negotiate many twists and turns if they are to hold onto each other.
It’s the 1920’s – what’s not to love? It’s a great period to read about and at an excellent pace, this fictional book will keep readers entertained and enthralled. There are the artists, such as the Pre-Raphaelites who get a mention, there’s the parties, the lifestyles and attempts to push the existing boundaries of that time. I find the 1920’s a fascinating period of time. This book captures a sense of society after the First World War, at a time when people wanted something different and women wanted more from life. This story really encapsulates the era very well. I had a feeling I would enjoy this book, which I did very much and even more than what I was anticipating.
The beauty of this book is that even though it is a sequel to The Wrong Envelope, which does get mentioned in this book, The Wrong Direction also stands very well on its own. So you can either jump straight into this with consummate ease, or you can start with The Wrong Envelope. I will add that I have not as yet read the first one, although I may well do in the future, I found the sequel easy to follow. So therefore, readers definitely have a couple of options open to them as to how to read these books.
The Wrong Direction is packed full of humour, but it is meaningfully done, with real substance. The humour does not feel forced or over-done. It is also actually relatable to people living in the world today! There are conversations that men and women have today, that you can imagine them having in the 1920’s. I don’t know what that says about people – perhaps some things never change? Anyway, this helps make the book be accessible to everyone. The tone of the book and the way the language is used fits in very well with the era.
The Wrong Direction has many chapters, but please do not let that put you off. At 309 pages, it’s an average sized book. Each, cleverly constructed chapter is just a few pages each. It makes for perfect reading when travelling or before going to sleep because then you’d be rarely interrupting yourself mid-chapter. I love that each chapter is named. Each title fits well with the content. The book is divided into sections, to signify the passing years and events and ends in 1922.
Evie and Bernard are newly weds. They’re very much in love, but trying to find their way in this new stage in life. It is set in the 1920s and is very funny, light and warm, but not frothy or sickly sweet. It’s attractive and a whole lot of fun!
There’s wonderful fun and banter between Bernard and Evie. I’d defy anyone not to smile at the warmth between them and have a giggle at their fun! When Evie is trying to cook and trying to find her feet, is so humorously written. I liked the characterisations of Bernard and Evie very quickly.
The book begins in Autumn 1920. Right from the first chapter, I found myself immersed into the story. The setting has enough description to visualise exactly what is going on at each moment and the scenery around them, but is not overly done. It’s all wonderful for the imagination. At the same time, there is a truth about the scenery as Evie and Bernard go through parks and other parts of London, which is seamless.
Everything has clearly been so well thought out and researched, right down to the fashions, the magazines, right down to a housekeeping book by Mrs Beeton. There are society balls and also initiation ceremonies for clubs, such as “The Custard Club”. The atmosphere is created exquisitely well and it all has an authentic feel about it, which is down to an understanding of the era and the writing style. The style of writing flows with ease.
Even though the book is set in the 1920s, the characters are still very much relatable to, for example, there’s certain habits that men had then, that they still have today. Women still flick through magazines looking at the latest articles and fashions.
It’s not all walks in the park and parties. Bernard is a flamboyant artist after all. Liz Treacher has done well in showing an understanding of the art movement of this period of time. I like that attention to detail and the references made to the Pre-Raphaelites such as Matisse. It shows where Bernard sits in the art world and is written like almost giving a nod to these great artists and their styles. It gives him some roots and context of his being part of this profession/vocation.
Evie herself isn’t a woman who is idle. She wants to create more of a life for herself. She wants to try to find where her place in life now sits, now that she isn’t in the more sedate Devon. She worked before her move to London and she wants to again.
Evie is a bright woman who wants more in life, she wants to learn new things and experience something different, so off she goes to Cambridge University. Both the university and the scenery by the River Cam is a great addition to this story. The scenery by the River Cam is idyllically described, but, cleverly, not stagnating the story. There are also the issues of the day highlighted about women in further education (but not heavily, they don’t distract from the easy, light flow of the book).
As a reader, we can almost, nervously question the relationship between Evie and Bernard and wonder what is going to happen next. It makes you wonder if it can last, with tensions growing between them with the distance between them in both mileage and in educational terms. There are very real worries that they will perhaps drift apart. Readers, you will have to read on to find out what happens in 1921.
Readers are introduced to all sorts of characters throughout the book, especially at university, such as Hilda, who has a quirky game she plays when she meets new people, but there’s also more to her than that as readers will discover as 1921 progresses. There’s a nice amount of characters to populate the book, that’s not too overwhelming for any reader. Some are a bit more in the background than others. It’s written in a way that people can be kept track of very easily.
The book goes as far as 1922, where we find out more about Evie and Bernard and just what has happened within their relationship and within their lives and emotions. I won’t say any more than that on this year because I don’t want to give away any spoilers.
The way the book is written and the tale it tells is light and yet has a lot of substance and authenticity about it, which strongly holds the interest.
To conclude: I love the sense of humour that runs through this book and the writing is excellent. This is a story with character, humour and some poignant and serious moments throughout it. I wanted to know more after each chapter was read. The pace is quick due to the layout and writing style of the book, which is immersive. Immediately I found myself caring for the main characters and I am sure other readers of this book will too.
The Wrong Direction, although isn’t Christmas themed, would make for an excellent Christmas present, which can then be read all year round.
*With thanks for Liz Treacher for writing to me with extra information about herself, for sending me the photo, for allowing me to review her book and for sending me a copy of her book.
*Please Note – This is an impartial review.