Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Books Read: Elizabeth Hay - Alone in the Classroom

In a small prairie school in 1929, Connie Flood helps a backward student, Michael Graves, learn how to read. Observing them and darkening their lives is the principal, Parley Burns, whose strange behaviour culminates in an attack so disturbing its repercussions continue to the present day. 
 
Connie's niece, Anne, tells the story. Impelled by curiosity about her dynamic, adventurous aunt and her more conventional mother, she revisits Connie's past and her mother's broken childhood.
In the process she unravels the enigma of Parley Burns and the mysterious, and unrelated, deaths of two young girls.

The book begins with the story of a missing young girl Ethel who had been out collecting Chokecherries but was later found dead, then moves on to a small prairie school where Connie is a young promising teacher who is achieving good results with a young pupil, Michael, who they'd all written off as wouldn't achieve anything. 

I'm sad to say that I just couldn't get into this book at all, and it's actually one of the rare few that I didn't finish reading, which is a shame as it had such promise, so I never did find out what had happened to Ethel or the other girl referred to in the synopsis.   

One of the things I struggled the most with this book is that the story is not told by Connie, but is actually told secondhand by her niece Anne who'd wanted to hear about her aunt's life when she was younger.  The story just didn't flow well and seemed to jump from one event to another without a smooth transition so just didn't grab my attention.  

That being said I'd still like to thank Quercus for sending me a copy of this book and giving me the opportunity to try reading a new author even though in this instance it was not to my taste. 

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