Friday, May 18, 2012

Review of "Middle Watch"

Orphaned by her parents’ deaths, that is hardly Bridie O’Neill’s biggest problem. The horrible foster mother she ends up with is somewhat balanced by her loving foster father, but he is rarely at home, leaving Bridie to suffer in silence. To Bridie, this will always be her life. She has accepted that fact. So when news comes that Dad Joe has taken a new job as a lighthouse keeper and intends to take Bridie with him, she is stunned and overjoyed. Her happily ever after hasn’t arrived just yet, however. Unwanted and unbrotherly attentions from Jim, loving yet domineering attention from Ryan, and the urge to find out who Bridie really is are waiting for her at the lighthouses.

I mentioned yesterday in my post how much I enjoyed the descriptions and imagery in Middle Watch. It was like being on a tour of the English seaside. Loretta Proctor did a wonderful job of pulling you into every scene of the book with her details of the scenery. Her attention to detail didn’t stop there, however. While not all of the characters were meant to be likable, they were all very interesting and unique. The two love interests, Bridie’s foster brother Jim and her friend Ryan, are as different as night and day. Both have sweet aspects to their characters as well and scary, but they were unique even in their similarities. Loretta also did a great job of keeping her characters consistent through the book.

Bridie is the most fascinating of all the characters. She is so complex and multifaceted. The poor girl lived through so much pain and heartache before getting to have even a little joy. I enjoyed seeing her start out as a child, so accepting of the brutality laid on her and unwilling to fight, and grow into a stronger woman. Having said that, I had been hoping that by the end of the book Bridie would have progressed a little more than she did.

I’ll warn you, there may be a few spoilers in this next part, so feel free to skip if you want.

At one point in the book Bridie tells Ryan that she needs some space and some time to discover who she really is and what she wants from life. The trip to London proves more difficult than she expected, but I had been glad she was brave enough to venture out on her own. The trials she faces there didn’t have the effect I was hoping for, in some ways. Yes Bridie was made stronger by having to face difficult situations, but I felt like when she returned home she lost some of that strength. I wanted her to stand up for herself and take the initiative more, especially when it came to talking to Ryan about Jim, and I wanted her to be the one to bring a resolution to her problems with Jim. I wasn’t totally sure why she felt like Ryan wouldn’t believe her about her issues with Jim either, but perhaps that was due more to the time period and society at that time.

Loretta had warned me that there was a shock at the end, and indeed there was. I had a suspicion a few chapters earlier of what the surprise would be, but I was glad Loretta chose the ending she did. I felt like it was very fitting.

Overall, Middle Watch was an enjoyable book. It captured a side of humanity many would prefer to overlook, and it created a crisp picture of what life was like during that time period. Loretta’s writing felt very authentic, and truly pulled you into Bridie’s life. The lighthouse aspect of the book was beautiful as well. I learned quite a bit out lighthouses and their keepers that I had never known before. I came to appreciate their hard work and their dedication to a craft that is now extinct in most aspects. I’ve mentioned before that previously I was not a big historical fiction reader, but I am beginning to appreciate it quite a bit.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was a fascinating story. It is not fast paced or action packed, but if you are looking for a very human and emotional book you will enjoy this.

Who would I recommend this book to? While this book doesn’t center on a specific historical event, it is set in the 40s and 50s. Historical readers will appreciate the authenticity of the book. Women’s fiction readers will connect will Bridie’s pain, joy, and struggle to know herself. Those looking for a romantic drama will be pleasantly entertained. This was far from a true “romance” novel of the Harlequin variety, but there was a sex scene that was descriptive. However the main focus of the romance was more character driven then hormone driven.
Middle Watch is available now from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Matador.