Time has passed and here I land, five years later. What to say…. I have missed thinking about and remembering what I have read, and sharing – especially sharing, those thoughts with other book lovers. I have also forgotten how to blog it would seem – things look vaguely familiar, easier maybe? I’m hoping.
Freya – Love the name and loved the story. I thought early on that of the three Anthony Quinn novels I’ve read, I might like this the least. It took a bit of time but now it might just be my favourite. All I have read have been wonderful, transporting the reader in a smooth and entertaining way to various periods of historical London (I’ve yet to read The Streets or The Rescue Man), the characters are interesting, major issues of the time are woven in – important but not intrusive. The difference with Freya was that by the end of it – twenty years of living, dying, laughing and crying later – I felt invested in the characters lives. I cared about what was next for them.
We first met Freya as the twelve year old daughter of the painter Stephen Wyley in Quinn’s previous novel Curtain Call. Here, several characters were introduced whose lives came together against the backdrop of a serial killer on the loose in 1930s West End London. I highly recommend it. Atmospheric, elegant and funny – some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud. Three of these characters, I think, appear again in Freya – although both can easily be read as stand alone books.
Eight years have passed as Freya the novel begins on VE Day in 1945. Amidst the frenzy of the celebrations, Freya meets the younger and less worldly Nancy – the beginning of an intense friendship. Freya has served in the Wrens and finds the prospect of post war life a bit meaningless. But she wants to write, as does Nancy, and both find themselves at Oxford, starting on the path and meeting the people that will shape their lives. This is a novel about changing dynamics in relationships, the bond of female friendship and attitudes towards women – and men, as society adjusts to life after the Second World War. And a lot more. Reading Anthony Quinn is a full experience – history, music, architecture – the art of living. And for all the elegance of his writing, he’s not afraid to offend his readers – which I like and am not offended by. Nothing is too perfect or predictable.
What do you think of using a photo like this for the cover of a story? Normally I would much prefer to imagine Freya for myself – we know she is ambitious, adventurous, independent, impulsive – yet loving and sensitive. But to me, this photo (of the beautiful Françoise Hardy) portrays the Freya I imagined perfectly. A brave and enhancing choice – I can imagine Freya the journalist making a publishing decision like this herself.
Read Curtain Call for the sheer joy of it and then read Freya and savour the journey…