[Review] The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison

Title: The Very Thought of You: A Novel
Author: Rosie Alison
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: World War II (1939 - 1945), Evacuation of Civilians - Yorkshire (England), Children
Page: 306 pages
First Published: 2009

The story starts in the year 1939 when British is in the brink of war. We follow eight-year-old Anna Sands who has been evacuated – away from his mother in London and his father fighting with the army in Egypt – to a boarding school in the countryside known as Ashton Park. Originally a private estate belonged to the Ashton family, it has been opened up to children evacuees during the Second World War by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple.

Soon Anna and other evacuees – despite missing their parents – settle themselves with the dormitory life which consists of ringing bells in between classes, mealtimes and playtimes. Until one day she becomes witness to the couple’s unraveling relationship and an implicit love affair that follows her until the day she dies.

This book started out very well for me. It begins with descriptive details of Ashton Park taken from Baxter’s Guide to the Historic Houses in England, 2007 (I have no idea if this guide really exists) wherein the final paragraph describes the discovery of an elderly woman sitting on a bench under a tree “… apparently enjoying the view. On close inspection she was found to be serenely dead, her fingers locked around a faded love letter.”

At the end of the chapter, I was so full of curiosity and anticipation, absorbed with the story of the evacuation and Ashton Park and the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Ashton. Until the story starts to be in repetitive that dwells for too long but no actual progress to the storyline has been made.

It was a disappointing read for me because the plot and the beginning were so powerful which somehow got lost along the way.

Despite everything that’s been said, the story tells us about loss, longing and unconditional love even beyond death. My favorite quote from the book:

“Of all the many people we meet in a lifetime, it is strange that so many of us find ourselves in thrall to one particular person. Once that face is seen, an involuntary heartache sets in for which there is no cure. All the wonder of this world finds shape in that one person and thereafter there is no reprieve, because this kind of love does not end, or not until death.”


Trish said…
Lovely quote; too bad about the rest of the book, though.
This is not an author I am familiar with, although the storyline and Amazon synopsis makes it sound like a book I would enjoy.

Sorry that you found it to be disappointing, although having checked around a bit, it does seem to have received mixed reviews.

The quote however is very poignant.

I hope that your next book is more to your liking.