Saturday, May 14, 2011

'Tin Toys' by Ursula Holden

Publisher: Methuen Modern Fiction

ISBN: 0-413-15850-0

Length: 132 Pages

What the blurb says:

'At seven Ula stands apart from the other children. Home is turbulent and lonely; her two sisters are aloof, and her baby brother is the apple of his nurse's eye. Ula herself, odd, sharp, irreverent, tends to shock rather than please. When tragedy strikes just before Christmas the household is turned on its head, and Ula is sent to Ireland- where a series of nightmarish events make that winter the turning point of her life.'

Opening Line: 'I could be certain of happiness on Saturday mornings because of my dancing class.'

What's right about this novel?

I enjoyed the way in which Ursula Holden introduced the characters within this novel. They are dynamic and have the observation style of such writers as Edith Wharton. I felt a connection with the main character and the voice in which Holden gives Ula is authentic.

What's wrong with this novel?

Even though Holden sets her characters up really well, I felt that she could have explored them more fully. I was particularly intrigued my Ula's mother as she is quite complex. However, I felt disappointed that Holden didn't delve more into her character. As a reader, if Holden had expanded on her character's stories, I feel that I could have learnt more about the reason why Ula's mother, was the way she was. I also found the progression of some characters, particularly Maggie, to be jarring and unrealistic. Maggie was shown as one type of character and then without warning, changed into some one else. People do change personality depending on their situation, but in real life this process is subtler in my opinion.

Although I felt that Holden had a similar writing style as Edith Wharton, I didn't feel that she was as successful as a writer. In fact, I felt that the overall tone of this novel was rather sinister and the ending of this novel made me feel rather uncomfortable. The reason was because I wasn't sure of the message that the writer was trying to convey throughout the novel. I felt like the novel had a rather macbre conclusion, which wasn't satisfactory.

I also wasn't impressed with the overall concept of the novel. I enjoyed reading 'Tin Toys', but having read such writers as Edith Wharton, who in my opinion is a superior writer to Holden, 'Tin Toys' felt like a novel that I had read before.

Is this novel worth a read?

In general I think that 'Tin Toys' is worth a read, if only to make your own mind about the ending. However, I would recommend Edith Wharton's novel 'The Vet's Daughter', over this one.

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